(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Anti-androgen therapies already widely used for prostate cancer may prove to benefit patients with bladder cancer, suggests preclinical research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Bladder tumor progression and metastasis is fueled by protein CD24, which “depends on androgens like testosterone,” explained senior author Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center. “By taking away these androgens, we may be able to greatly diminish the proliferative and metastatic power of bladder cancer cells.”

“Overexpression of CD24, a glycosyl phosphatidylinositol-linked sialoglycoprotein, is associated with poor outcome in urothelial carcinoma and contributes to experimental tumor growth and metastasis,” the authors wrote.

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In chemically-induced mouse bladder tumorigenesis models and studies of human bladder tumors, the authors showed that CD24 expression predicted relapse and shorter disease-free survival (DFS) times, particularly in males.

“Male patients with tumors expressing higher levels of CD24 had shorter disease-free survival times than males whose tumors expressed lower levels of CD24, even in a small (n=35) patient cohort (P=0.045),” the authors wrote.

Androgen deprivation in human bladder cancer cell lines caused declines in CD24 levels and cell proliferation. Adding CD24 protein to cell lines renewed cell proliferation.   

The report offers a “rationale for clinical studies of anti-androgen therapies with bladder cancer, especially in those tumors that happen to test markedly high in CD24 expression,” Dr. Theodorescu said. “The next step is moving this promising therapy to clinical trials with human patients.”

Human bladder cancer rates are higher in men than women, the team notes.