Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2016 May;157(1):77-90. doi: 10.1007/s10549-016-3807-y. Epub 2016 Apr 27.
Thakkar A1,2, Wang B1, Picon-Ruiz M1, Buchwald P3, Ince TA4,5.
Anti-estrogen and anti-HER2 treatments have been among the first and most successful examples of targeted therapy for breast cancer (BC). However, the treatment of triple-negative BC (TNBC) that lack estrogen receptor expression or HER2 amplification remains a major challenge. We previously discovered that approximately two-thirds of TNBCs express vitamin D receptor (VDR) and/or androgen receptor (AR) and hypothesized that TNBCs co-expressing AR and VDR (HR2-av TNBC) could be treated by targeting both of these hormone receptors. To evaluate the feasibility of VDR/AR-targeted therapy in TNBC, we characterized 15 different BC lines and identified 2 HR2-av TNBC lines and examined the changes in their phenotype, viability, and proliferation after VDR and AR-targeted treatment. Treatment of BC cell lines with VDR or AR agonists inhibited cell viability in a receptor-dependent manner, and their combination appeared to inhibit cell viability additively. Moreover, cell viability was further decreased when AR/VDR agonist hormones were combined with chemotherapeutic drugs. The mechanisms of inhibition by AR/VDR agonist hormones included cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in TNBC cell lines. In addition, AR/VDR agonist hormones induced differentiation and inhibited cancer stem cells (CSCs) measured by reduction in tumorsphere formation efficiency, high aldehyde dehydrogenase activity, and CSC markers. Surprisingly, we found that AR antagonists inhibited proliferation of most BC cell lines in an AR-independent manner, raising questions regarding their mechanism of action. In summary, AR/VDR-targeted agonist hormone therapy can inhibit HR2-av TNBC through multiple mechanisms in a receptor-dependent manner and can be combined with chemotherapy.
PMID: 27120467 PMCID: PMC4869778 DOI: 10.1007/s10549-016-3807-y