Nerves are key factors in prostate cancer (PCa) progression. Here, we propose that neuropeptide Y (NPY) nerves are key regulators of cancer-nerve interaction.
We used in vitro models for NPY inhibition studies and subsequent metabolomics, apoptotic and migration assays, and nuclear transcription factor-κB (NF-κB) translocation studies. Human naïve and radiated PCa tissues were used for NPY nerve density biomarker studies. Tissues derived from a Botox denervation clinical trial were used to corroborate metabolomic changes in humans.
Cancer cells increase NPY positive nerves in vitro and in preneoplastic human tissues. NPY-specific inhibition resulted in increased cancer apoptosis, decreased motility, and energetic metabolic pathway changes. A comparison of metabolomic response in NPY-inhibited cells with the transcriptome response in human PCa patients treated with Botox showed shared 13 pathways, including the tricarboxylic acid cycle. We identified that NF-κB is a potential NPY downstream mediator. Using in vitro models and tissues derived from a previous human chemical denervation study, we show that Botox specifically, but not exclusively, inhibits NPY in cancer. Quantification of NPY nerves is independently predictive of PCa-specific death. Finally, NPY nerves might be involved in radiation therapy (RT) resistance, as radiation-induced apoptosis is reduced when PCa cells are cocultured with dorsal root ganglia/nerves and NPY positive nerves are increased in prostates of patients that failed RT.
These data suggest that targeting the NPY neural microenvironment may represent a therapeutic approach for the treatment of PCa and resistance through the regulation of multiple oncogenic mechanisms.

© 2020 The Authors. The Prostate published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.