Resistance to androgen-deprivation therapies and progression to so-called castrate-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) remain challenges in prostate cancer (PCa) management and treatment. Among other alterations, CRPC has been associated with metabolic reprogramming driven by androgens. Here, we investigated the role of androgens in regulating glutaminolysis in PCa cells and determined the relevance of this metabolic route in controlling the survival and growth of androgen-sensitive (LNCaP) and CRPC (DU145 and PC3) cells.
PCa cells (LNCaP, DU145 and PC3) and 3-month old rats were treated with 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Alternatively, LNCaP cells were exposed to the glutaminase inhibitor BPTES, alone or in combination with the anti-androgen bicalutamide. Biochemical, Western blot and extracellular flux assays were used to evaluate the viability, proliferation, migration and metabolism of PCa cells in response to DHT treatment or glutaminase inhibition.
We found that DHT up-regulated the expression of the glutamine transporter ASCT2 and glutaminase, both in vitro in LNCaP cells and in vivo in rat prostate cells. BPTES diminished the viability and migration of PCa cells, while increasing caspase-3 activity. CRPC cells were found to be more dependent on glutamine and more sensitive to glutaminase inhibition. BPTES and bicalutamide co-treatment had an additive effect on suppressing LNCaP cell viability. Finally, we found that inhibition of glutaminolysis differentially affected glycolysis and lipid metabolism in both androgen-sensitive and CRPC cells.
Our data reveal glutaminolysis as a central metabolic route controlling PCa cell fate and highlight the relevance of targeting glutaminase for CRPC treatment.