Author(s): Bruchovsky N, Rennie PS, Coldman AJ, Goldenberg SL, To M,
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Abstract The parent Shionogi mouse mammary carcinoma is androgen dependent but cells that survive hormone withdrawal progress and give rise to an androgen-independent tumor. To determine whether renewed growth might be attributed to the persistence or partial recovery of an androgenic stimulus, we compared the amount of dihydrotestosterone and nuclear androgen receptor in parent and recurrent tumors. The whole tissue concentration of dihydrotestosterone in the parent tumor before castration was 1.40 +/- 0.46 (SE) as compared with 0.22 +/- 0.10 pmol/mg of DNA in the recurrent tumor. The initial concentration of nuclear androgen receptor in the parent was 0.65 +/- 0.12 pmol/mg of DNA; this was reduced to zero within 24 h after castration. Also in keeping with the androgen independence, no receptor was detected in the nuclear fraction of the recurrent carcinoma. In an attempt to relate malignant potential to nonhormonal factors associated with progression, we compared the proportions of androgen-dependent and -independent tumorigenic (stem) cells in parent and recurrent tumors using an in vivo limiting dilution assay. The difference observed, i.e., one stem cell per 4000 tumor cells in the parent versus one stem cell per 200 tumor cells in the recurrent carcinoma, was consistent with a marked enrichment of stem cells in the latter. The proportion of androgen-independent stem cells was also determined by assaying tumor takes in female hosts. The difference, i.e., one stem cell per 370,000 tumor cells in the parent versus one stem cell per 800 tumor cells in the recurrent carcinoma, demonstrated a striking 500-fold increase in androgen-independent stem cells resulting from androgen withdrawal. Unexpectedly, no enrichment of androgen-independent stem cells was evident in regressing parent tumors; rather, the proportion of such cells was very small, i.e., one androgen-independent stem cell per 2,200,000 regressing parent cells. This finding implies that the androgen-independent state of cells which survive androgen withdrawal may result from the ability of a small number of initially androgen-dependent stem cells to adapt to an altered hormone environment.
This article was published in Cancer Res
and referenced in Journal of Steroids & Hormonal Science