Attenuating adaptive VEGF-A and IL-8 signaling restores durable tumor control in AR-antagonist-treated prostate cancers

Pamela J Maxwell, Melanie McKechnie, Christopher W Armstrong, Judith M Manley, Chee Wee Ong, Jenny Worthington, Ian G Mills, Daniel B Longley, James P Quigley, Amina Zoubedi, Johann S de Bono, Elena Deryugina, Melissa J LaBonte, David J J Waugh

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Inhibiting androgen signaling using androgen signaling inhibitors (ASI) remains the primary treatment for castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Acquired resistance to androgen receptor (AR)-targeted therapy represents a major impediment to durable clinical response. Understanding resistance mechanisms, including the role of AR expressed in other cell types within the tumor microenvironment, will extend the clinical benefit of AR-targeted therapy. Here, we show the ASI enzalutamide induces vascular catastrophe and promotes hypoxia and microenvironment adaptation. We characterize treatment-induced hypoxia, and subsequent induction of angiogenesis, as novel mechanisms of relapse to enzalutamide, highlighting the importance of two hypoxia-regulated cytokines in underpinning relapse. We confirmed AR expression in CD34+ vascular endothelium of biopsy tissue and human vascular endothelial cells (HVEC). Enzalutamide attenuated angiogenic tubule formation and induced cytotoxicity in HVECs in vitro, and rapidly induced sustained hypoxia in LNCaP xenografts. Subsequent reoxygenation, following prolonged enzalutamide treatment, was associated with increased tumor vessel density and accelerated tumor growth. Hypoxia increased AR expression and transcriptional activity in prostate cells in vitro. Coinhibition of IL8 and VEGF-A restored tumor response in the presence of enzalutamide, confirming the functional importance of their elevated expression in enzalutamide-resistant models. Moreover, coinhibition of IL8 and VEGF-A resulted in a durable, effective resolution of enzalutamide-sensitive prostate tumors. We conclude that concurrent inhibition of two hypoxia-induced factors, IL8 and VEGF-A, prolongs tumor sensitivity to enzalutamide in preclinical models and may delay the onset of enzalutamide resistance. Implications: Targeting hypoxia-induced signaling may extend the therapeutic benefit of enzalutamide, providing an improved treatment strategy for patients with resistant disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)841-853
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular cancer research : MCR
Issue number6
Early online date06 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 03 Jun 2022


  • Cancer Research
  • Molecular Biology
  • Oncology


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