Metastatic prostate adenocarcinoma is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men. First line treatment is primarily aimed at blocking the synthesis and action of androgens. As primary endocrine treatment, androgen deprivation is usually achieved by orchidectomy or LHRH analogues, frequently combined with androgen receptor antagonists in order to block the residual adrenal androgens. However, nearly all the patients will eventually relapse. Available or potential second line therapies include, among others, alternative endocrine manipulations and chemotherapy. Cytochrome P450-dependent enzymes are involved in the synthesis and/or degradation of many endogenous compounds, such as steroids and retinoic acid. Some of these enzymes represent suitable targets for the treatment of prostate cancer. In first line therapy, inhibitors of the P450-dependent 17,20-lyase may achieve a maximal androgen ablation with a single drug treatment. Ketoconazole at high dose blocks both testicular and adrenal androgen biosynthesis but its side-effects, mainly gastric discomfort, limit its widespread use. A series of newly synthesized, more selective, steroidal 17,20-lyase inhibitors related to 17-(3-pyridyl)androsta-5,16-dien-3beta-ol, may open new perspectives in this field. In prostate cancer patients who relapse after surgical or medical castration, therapies aiming at suppressing the remaining adrenal androgen biosynthesis (ketoconazole) or producing a medical adrenalectomy (aminoglutethimide+hydrocortisone) have been used, but are becoming obsolete with the generalization of maximal androgen blockade in first line treatment. The role of inhibition of aromatase in prostate cancer therapy, which was postulated for aminoglutethimide, could not be confirmed by the use of more selective aromatase inhibitors, such as formestane. An alternative approach is represented by liarozole fumarate (LIA), a compound that blocks the P450-dependent catabolism of retinoic acid (RA). In vitro, it enhances the antiproliferative and differentiation effects of RA in cell lines that express RA metabolism, such as F9 teratocarcinoma and MCF-7 breast carcinoma cells. In vivo, monotherapy with LIA increases RA plasma levels and, to a greater extent, endogenous tissue RA levels leading to retinoid-mimetic effects. In the rat Dunning prostate cancer models, it inhibits the growth of androgen-independent as well as androgen-dependent carcinomas relapsing after castration. Concurrently, changes in the pattern of cytokeratins characteristic of increased differentiation were observed. Early clinical trials show that LIA, in second or third line therapy in metastatic prostate cancer, induces PSA responses in about 30% of unselected patients. In some patients regression of soft tissue metastasis ha been observed. In a subgroup of patients, an important relief of metastatic bone pain was also noted.
De Coster R; Wouters W; Bruynseels J
J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol, 56: 1-6 Spec No, 1996 Jan, 133-43
Janssen Reserach Foundation, Beerse, Belgium.