Androgen receptor-CaMKK2 axis in prostate cancer and bone microenvironment

Ushashi C. Dadwal, Eric S. Chang, Uma Sankar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The skeletal system is of paramount importance in advanced stage prostate cancer (PCa) as it is the preferred site of metastasis. Complex mechanisms are employed sequentially by PCa cells to home to and colonize the bone. Bone-resident PCa cells then recruit osteoblasts (OBs), osteoclasts (OCs), and macrophages within the niche into entities that promote cancer cell growth and survival. Since PCa is heavily reliant on androgens for growth and survival, androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT) is the standard of care for advanced disease. Although it significantly improves survival rates, ADT detrimentally affects bone health and significantly increases the risk of fractures. Moreover, whereas the majority patients with advanced PCa respond favorably to androgen deprivation, most experience a relapse of the disease to a hormone-refractory form within 1-2 years of ADT. The tumor adapts to surviving under low testosterone conditions by selecting for mutations in the androgen receptor (AR) that constitutively activate it. Thus, AR signaling remains active in PCa cells and aids in its survival under low levels of circulating androgens and additionally allows the cancer cells to manipulate the bone microenvironment to fuel its growth. Hence, AR and its downstream effectors are attractive targets for therapeutic interventions against PCa. Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase kinase 2 (CaMKK2), was recently identified as a key downstream target of AR in coordinating PCa cell growth, survival, and migration. Additionally, this multifunctional serine/threonine protein kinase is a critical mediator of bone remodeling and macrophage function, thus emerging as an attractive therapeutic target downstream of AR in controlling metastatic PCa and preventing ADT-induced bone loss. Here, we discuss the role played by AR-CaMKK2 signaling axis in PCa survival, metabolism, cell growth, and migration as well as the cell-intrinsic roles of CaMKK2 in OBs, OCs, and macrophages within the bone microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number335
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
Issue numberJUN
StatePublished - Jun 18 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Androgen-deprivation therapy
  • Bone-tumor microenvironment
  • CAMKK2
  • Castrate-resistant prostate cancer
  • Treatment induced bone loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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