Prostate Cancer Stem-like Cells Contribute to the Development of Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer
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Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) has been the standard care for patients with advanced prostate cancer (PC) since the 1940s. Although ADT shows clear benefits for many patients, castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) inevitably occurs. In fact, with the two recent FDA-approved second-generation anti-androgens abiraterone and enzalutamide, resistance develops rapidly in patients with CRPC, despite their initial effectiveness. The lack of effective therapeutic solutions towards CRPC largely reflects our limited understanding of the underlying mechanisms responsible for CRPC development. While persistent androgen receptor (AR) signaling under castration levels of serum testosterone (<50 ng/mL) contributes to resistance to ADT, it is also clear that CRPC evolves via complex mechanisms. Nevertheless, the physiological impact of individual mechanisms and whether these mechanisms function in a cohesive manner in promoting CRPC are elusive. In spite of these uncertainties, emerging evidence supports a critical role of prostate cancer stem-like cells (PCSLCs) in stimulating CRPC evolution and resistance to abiraterone and enzalutamide. In this review, we will discuss the recent evidence supporting the involvement of PCSLC in CRPC acquisition as well as the pathways and factors contributing to PCSLC expansion in response to ADT.
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