Saturday, April 30, 2016
Improper functioning of the mitochondria, a cell's source of energy, may help account for the fact that African-American men with prostate cancer respond poorly to the same conventional therapies provided to white American men, according to research led by Dhyan Chandra, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI)
"In an earlier study, we provided the first evidence that African-American men possess reduced levels of mitochondrial genetic material in healthy prostate tissues, compared to Caucasian-American men. This new study highlights the importance of mitochondrial dysfunction as one of the main reasons for prostate cancer health disparities," says Dr. Chandra. "We conclude that the presence of severe mitochondrial dysfunction in African-American men with prostate cancer, compared with Caucasian men with the disease, would be one of the potential reasons for the increased cancer resistance to chemotherapy and the recurrence of disease." Mitochondrial dysfunction is strongly linked to chemotherapeutic resistance leading to relapse of prostate cancer, but its effects can sometimes be overcome by treatment with the small molecule dichloroacetate. In prostate cancer cells from African-American men, dichloroacetate did not restore mitochondrial function to required levels. This mitochondrial dysfunction within prostate cancer cells appears to make African-American men more resistant to current chemotherapy, putting them at greater risk for disease spread. The identification of new anticancer agents that would restore mitochondrial activity may result in better disease control, the researchers emphasize. "These findings may provide an explanation for the higher incidence and mortality rates of prostate cancer among African-American men. African-American patients might get more positive outcomes after major restoration of mitochondrial function, which could improve the anticancer effects of therapy," adds Dr. Chandra.