Purpose Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) commonly leads to incomplete cell death and the fate of persistent cells involves, in part, a senescent phenotype. Senescence is terminal growth arrest in response to cell stress that is characterized by increased lysosomal-β-galactosidase (GLB1) the origin of senescence associated-β-gal activity (SA-β-gal). In the current study senescence is examined in vivo after ADT use in a neoadjuvant trial. Methods and materials Tissue microarrays were generated from prostate cancer specimens (n = 126) from a multicenter neoadjuvant ADT trial. Arrays were subjected to multiplexed immunofluorescent staining for GLB1, Ki67, cleaved caspase 3 (CC3) and E-cadherin. Automated quantitative imaging was performed using Vectra™ and expression correlated with clinicopathologic features. Results Tissue was analyzed from 59 patients treated with neoadjuvant ADT and 67 receiving no therapy preoperatively. Median follow-up was 85.3 mo and median ADT treatment was 5 mo. In PC treated with neoadjuvant ADT, GLB1 expression increased in intermediate Gleason score (GS 6-7; p = 0.001), but not high grade (GS 8-10) cancer. Significantly higher levels of GLB1 were seen in tissues undergoing neoadjuvant ADT longer than 5 months compared to untreated tissues (p = 0.002). In contrast, apoptosis significantly increased earlier (1-4 mo) after ADT treatment (p<0.5). Conclusions Increased GLB1 after neoadjuvant ADT occurs primarily among more clinically favorable intermediate grade cancers and enrichment of the phenotype occurs in a temporally prolonged fashion. Senescence may explain the persistence of PCa cells after ADT. Given concerns for the detrimental longer term presence of senescent cells, targeting these cells for removal may improve outcomes.
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