Androgen receptor plays role in bladder cancer development

May 3, 2007

The androgen receptor appears to play a key role in the development of bladder cancer, revealing why the disease is more prevalent in men than in women, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2007; 99:558-68). This finding could open the door to new types of treatment.

The androgen receptor appears to play a key role in the development of bladder cancer, revealing why the disease is more prevalent in men than in women, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2007; 99:558-68). This finding could open the door to new types of treatment.

In the study, mice without the androgen receptor had dramatically lower rates of bladder cancer compared with mice with the receptor. Similarly, human cancer cells with the receptor were much more aggressive than were those without it. Scientists have suspected that male hormones working in concert with the androgen receptor might play a role, but hard evidence has been minimal until now, said co-author Edward Messing, MD, of the University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY.

“For many years, people have recognized that men are more likely than women to get bladder cancer,” Dr. Messing said. “More and more women are smoking and working with chemicals in the workplace, yet their bladder cancer rates have not really changed much. There is no longer any question that the androgen receptor is playing a role in bladder cancer.”

The team disabled the androgen receptor in mice, and while their normal counterparts with the androgen receptor developed significant levels of bladder cancer-92% of males and 42% of females-when exposed to a carcinogen, not a single mouse whose androgen receptor was knocked out developed bladder cancer. Mice without the receptor also had significantly fewer premalignant changes in the bladder.