In vitro model systems to study androgen receptor signaling in prostate cancer

    1. Iris E Eder1
    1. 1Division of Experimental Urology, Department of Urology
      2Department of Internal Medicine IV – Nephrology and Hypertensiology, Innsbruck Medical University, Anichstraße 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to I E Eder; Email: iris.eder{at}


    Prostate cancer (PCa) is one of the most common causes of male cancer-related death in Western nations. The cellular response to androgens is mediated via the androgen receptor (AR), a ligand-inducible transcription factor whose dysregulation plays a key role during PCa development and progression following androgen deprivation therapy, the current mainstay systemic treatment for advanced PCa. Thus, a better understanding of AR signaling and new strategies to abrogate AR activity are essential for improved therapeutic intervention. Consequently, a large number of experimental cell culture models have been established to facilitate in vitro investigations into the role of AR signaling in PCa development and progression. These different model systems mimic distinct stages of this heterogeneous disease and exhibit differences with respect to AR expression/status and androgen responsiveness. Technological advances have facilitated the development of in vitro systems that more closely reflect the physiological setting, for example via the use of three-dimensional coculture to study the interaction of prostate epithelial cells with the stroma, endothelium, immune system and tissue matrix environment. This review provides an overview of the most commonly used in vitro cell models currently available to study AR signaling with particular focus on their use in addressing key questions relating to the development and progression of PCa. It is hoped that the continued development of in vitro models will provide more biologically relevant platforms for mechanistic studies, drug discovery and design ensuring a more rapid transfer of knowledge from the laboratory to the clinic.

    • Revision received 9 February 2013
    • Accepted 26 February 2013
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 27 February 2013
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