Mechanisms of resistance to systemic therapy in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer

Patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCPRC) now have an unprecedented number of approved treatment options, including chemotherapies (docetaxel, cabazitaxel), androgen receptor (AR)-targeted therapies (enzalutamide, abiraterone), a radioisotope (radium-223) and a cancer vaccine (sipuleucel-T). However, the optimal treatment sequencing pathway is unknown, and this problem is exacerbated by the issues of primary and acquired resistance. This review focuses on mechanisms of resistance to AR-targeted therapies and taxane-based chemotherapy. Patients treated with abiraterone, enzalutamide, docetaxel or cabazitaxel may present with primary resistance, or eventually acquire resistance when on treatment. Multiple resistance mechanisms to AR-targeted agents have been proposed, including: intratumoral androgen production, amplification, mutation, or expression of AR splice variants, increased steroidogenesis, upregulation of signals downstream of the AR, and development of androgen-independent tumor cells. Known mechanisms of resistance to chemotherapy are distinct, and include: tubulin alterations, increased expression of multidrug resistance genes, TMPRSS2-ERG fusion genes, kinesins, cytokines, and components of other signaling pathways, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Utilizing this information, biomarkers of resistance/response have the potential to direct treatment decisions. Expression of the AR splice variant AR-V7 may predict resistance to AR-targeted agents, but available biomarker assays are yet to be prospectively validated in the clinic. Ongoing prospective trials are evaluating the sequential use of different drugs, or combination regimens, and the results of these studies, combined with a deeper understanding of mechanisms of primary and acquired resistance to treatment, have the potential to drive future treatment decisions in mCRPC.

Cancer treatment reviews. 2017 May 08 [Epub ahead of print]

Giuseppe Galletti, Benjamin I Leach, Linda Lam, Scott T Tagawa

Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY, USA., Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address: .