Amplification of the androgen receptor may not explain the development of androgen-independent prostate cancer

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Edwards, J. ; Krishna, N.S. ; Mukherjee, R. ; Watters, A.D. ; Underwood, M.A. ; Bartlett, J.M.S. (2001)

Objective To examine the role of androgen receptor (AR) gene amplification and aneusomy of the X chromosome in the development of antiandrogen-resistant prostate cancer. Patients and methods Twenty patients with prostate cancer resistant to androgen-deprivation therapy were selected for study. The records of patients with tumours before and after antiandrogen therapy, and with a full clinical follow-up, were retrieved. AR gene amplification and X chromosome copy number were assessed by fluorescence in situ hybridization using a labelled probe at locus Xq11-13 for the AR gene and a labelled a-satellite probe for the X chromosome. At least 20 nuclei were scored over three tumour areas by two independent observers. Results Aneusomy of the X chromosome was reported respectively in seven (35%) and 11 (55%) tumours before and after hormone relapse, the AR gene copy number was increased in seven (35%) and 13 (65%), respectively, and AR gene amplification was detected in one (5%) and three (15%), respectively. Neither increased AR copy number nor AR amplification in primary tumours precluded a biological response to androgen-deprivation therapy. Conclusion The rate of AR gene amplification is too low to be solely responsible for the development of antiandrogen-resistant prostate cancer. Also, the presence of amplified AR and cells aneusomic for the X chromosome in primary tumours that respond to androgen-deprivation therapy suggests that an increase in AR gene copy number does not prevent a tumour from responding to this therapy. Therefore other mechanisms which could cause hormone-refractory prostate cancer must be investigated before it is understood why so many patients relapse with this disease.
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