Di-n-butyl phthalate induced hypospadias relates to autophagy in genital tubercle via the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway
BACKGROUND Treatment of advanced prostate cancer (PCa) relies on pharmacological or surgical androgen deprivation. However, it is only temporarily efficient. After a few months or years, the tumor relapses despite the absence of androgenic stimulation: a state referred to as hormone-refractory prostate cancer (HRPCa). Although autophagy confers chemoresistance in some cancers, its role in the development of HRPCa remains unknown. METHODS Autophagic flux was assayed by GFP-LC3 clustering, by LC3-I to LC3-II conversion and transmission electron microscopy. Cell death was detected by sub-G1 quantification and concomitant measurement of transmembrane mitochondrial potential and plasma membrane permeabilization. Inhibition of autophagy was achieved by siRNAs and pharmacological inhibitors. RESULTS Androgen deprivation or treatment with the anti-androgen bicalutamide promoted autophagy in HRPCa-derived LNCaP cells. This effect was dramatically reduced after depletion of Atg5 and Beclin-1, two canonical autophagy genes, and was associated with an inhibition of the androgen-induced mTOR pathway. The depletion of Atg5 and Beclin-1 significantly increased the level of cell death induced by androgen deprivation or bicalutamide. Finally, the safe anti-malarial drug chloroquine, an inhibitor of autophagy, dramatically increased cell death after androgen deprivation or bicalutamide treatment. CONCLUSION Taken together, our data suggest that autophagy is a protective mechanism against androgen deprivation in HRPCa cells and that chloroquine could restore hormone dependence. This set of data could lead to the development of new therapeutic strategy against HRPCa.