Analytical Validation and Clinical Qualification of a New Immunohistochemical Assay for Androgen Receptor Splice Variant-7 Protein Expression in Metastatic Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer

Jonathan Welti, Daniel Nava Rodrigues, Adam Sharp, Shihua Sun, David Lorente, Ruth Riisnaes, Ines Figueiredo, Zafeiris Zafeiriou, Pasquale Rescigno, Johann S de Bono, Stephen R Plymate
European Urology 2016, 70 (4): 599-608

BACKGROUND: The androgen receptor splice variant-7 (AR-V7) has been implicated in the development of castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and resistance to abiraterone and enzalutamide.

OBJECTIVE: To develop a validated assay for detection of AR-V7 protein in tumour tissue and determine its expression and clinical significance as patients progress from hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (HSPC) to CRPC.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Following monoclonal antibody generation and validation, we retrospectively identified patients who had HSPC and CRPC tissue available for AR-V7 immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis.

OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Nuclear AR-V7 expression was determined using IHC H score (HS) data. The change in nuclear AR-V7 expression from HSPC to CRPC and the association between nuclear AR-V7 expression and overall survival (OS) was determined.

RESULTS AND LIMITATIONS: Nuclear AR-V7 expression was significantly lower in HSPC (median HS 50, interquartile range [IQR] 17.5-90) compared to CRPC (HS 135, IQR 80-157.5; p<0.0001), and in biopsy tissue taken before (HS 80, IQR 30-136.3) compared to after (HS 140, IQR 105-167.5; p=0.007) abiraterone or enzalutamide treatment. Lower nuclear AR-V7 expression at CRPC biopsy was associated with longer OS (hazard ratio 1.012, 95% confidence interval 1.004-1.020; p=0.003). While this monoclonal antibody primarily binds to AR-V7 in PC biopsy tissue, it may also bind to other proteins.

CONCLUSIONS: We provide the first evidence that nuclear AR-V7 expression increases with emerging CRPC and is prognostic for OS, unlike antibody staining for the AR N-terminal domain. These data indicate that AR-V7 is important in CRPC disease biology; agents targeting AR splice variants are needed to test this hypothesis and further improve patient outcome from CRPC.

PATIENT SUMMARY: In this study we found that levels of the protein AR-V7 were higher in patients with advanced prostate cancer. A higher level of AR-V7 identifies a group of patients who respond less well to certain prostate cancer treatments and live for a shorter period of time.

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