Knockout of ERβ in the mouse leads to nuclear expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in the prostate. To examine whether ERβ plays a similar role in the human prostate, we used four cohorts of men: 1) a Swedish cohort of normal prostates and PCa (prostate cancer) of different Gleason grades; 2) men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) treated with the 5α-reductase inhibitor, finasteride, and finasteride together with the ERβ agonists, soy isoflavones; 3) men with PCa above Gleason grade 4 (GG4), treated with ADT (androgen deprivation therapy) and abiraterone (AA), the blocker of androgen synthesis for different durations; and 4) men with GG4 PCa on ADT or ADT with the AR (androgen receptor) blocker, enzalutamide, for 4 mo to 6 mo. In men with BPH, finasteride treatment induced EGFR nuclear expression, but, when finasteride was combined with isoflavones, EGFR remained on the cell membrane. In GG4 patients, blocking of AR for 4 mo to 6 mo resulted in loss of ERβ and PTEN expression and increase in patients with nuclear EGFR from 10 to 40%. In the men with GG4 PCa, blocking of adrenal synthesis of testosterone for 2 mo to 7 mo had the beneficial effect of increasing ERβ expression, but, on treatment longer than 8 mo, ERβ was lost and EGFR moved to the nucleus. Since nuclear EGFR is a predictor of poor outcome in PCa, addition of ERβ agonists together with abiraterone should be considered as a treatment that might sustain expression of ERβ and offer some benefit to patients.
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