During androgen ablation in prostate cancer by the standard gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist treatment, only luteinizing hormone (LH) is permanently suppressed while circulating follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) rebounds. We explored direct prostatic effects of add-back FSH, after androgen ablation with GnRH antagonist, permanently suppressing both gonadotropins.
The effects of recombinant human (rFSH) were examined in mice treated with vehicle (controls), GnRH antagonist degarelix (dgx), dgx + rFSH, dgx + flutamide, or dgx + rFSH + flutamide for 4 weeks. Prostates and testes size and expression of prostate-specific and/or androgen-responsive genes were measured. Additionally, 33 young men underwent dgx-treatment. Seventeen were supplemented with rFSH (weeks 1–5), and all with testosterone (weeks 4–5). Testosterone, gondotropins, prostate-specific antigen (PSA), and inhibin B were measured.
In dgx and dgx + flutamide treated mice, prostate weight/body weight was 91% lower than in controls, but 41 and 11%, respectively, was regained by rFSH treatment (P = 0.02). The levels of seminal vesicle secretion 6, Pbsn, Nkx3.1, beta-microseminoprotein, and inhibin b were elevated in dgx + rFSH-treated animals compared with only dgx treated (all P < 0.05). In men, serum inhibin B rose after dgx treatment but was subsequently suppressed by testosterone. rFSH add-back had no effect on PSA levels.
These data provide novel evidence for the direct effects of FSH on prostate size and gene expression in chemically castrated mice. However, in chemically castrated men, FSH had no effect on PSA production. Whether FSH effects on the prostate in humans also require suppression of the residual adrenal-derived androgens and/or a longer period of rFSH stimulation, remains to be explored.