Glucocorticoids (GCs) are widely used for the treatment of hormone refractory prostate cancer. However, few data are available on the expression and regulation of glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors (GR and MR) and 11beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11beta-HSD) 1 and -2 activities in prostate cancer cells. Here we show that GR is expressed in both the androgen-independent PC-3 cell line and, at very low levels, in the androgen-dependent LNCaP cells, and MR is expressed in both cell lines. IL-1beta increased GR expression in both cell lines. In LNCaP cells IL-1beta also increased MR expression. Significant 11beta-HSD oxidase activity and 11beta-HSD2 protein were found in LNCaP cells, but not in PC3 cells, and no ketoreductase activity was detected in either cell lines. GR function was assessed by measuring the inhibitory effect of dexamethasone on constitutive and IL-1beta-inducible IL-6 and osteoprotegerin (OPG) production. In PC-3 cells, IL-1beta stimulated IL-6 and OPG release, and dexamethasone dose-dependently inhibited IL-1beta-inducible IL-6 release, and constitutive and IL-1beta-inducible OPG release. In LNCaP cells, IL-1beta stimulated only OPG release. While dexamethasone was ineffective, cortisol dose-dependently inhibited IL-1beta-inducible OPG release. Eplerenone (Epl), a selective mineralocorticoid antagonist, reverted this effect. We conclude that different patterns of expression of receptors and 11beta-HSD activity were associated with different responsiveness to GCs in terms of regulated gene expression. GR and MR expression may vary as a function not only of the malignant phenotype, but also of local conditions such as the degree of inflammation. Inhibition of IL-6 and OPG release by GCs may contribute to the antitumor efficacy in prostate cancer.
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