BACKGROUND Generally, clinical assessment of gonadal testosterone (T) in human physiology is determined using concentrations measured in peripheral blood. Prostatic T exposure is similarly thought to be determined from peripheral T exposure. Despite the fact that androgens drive prostate cancer, peripheral T has had no role in the clinical evaluation or treatment of men with localized prostate cancer.METHODS To assess the role of local androgen delivery in prostate cancer, we obtained blood from the (periprostatic) prostatic dorsal venous complex in 266 men undergoing radical prostatectomy from July 2014 to August 2021 and compared dorsal T (DT) levels with those in circulating peripheral blood (PT) and prostatic tissue. Comprehensive targeted steroid analysis and unbiased metabolomics analyses were performed. The association between the DT/PT ratio and progression-free survival after prostatectomy was assessed.RESULTS Surprisingly, in some men, DT levels were enriched several-fold compared with PT levels. For example, 20% of men had local T concentrations that were at least 2-fold higher than peripheral T concentrations. Isocaproic acid, a byproduct of androgen biosynthesis, and 17-OH-progesterone, a marker of intratesticular T, were also enriched in the dorsal vein of these men, consistent with testicular shunting. Men with enriched DT had higher rates of prostate cancer recurrence. DT/PT concentration ratios predicted worse outcomes even when accounting for known clinical predictors.CONCLUSIONS These data suggest that a large proportion of men have a previously unappreciated exposure to an undiluted and highly concentrated T supply. Elevated periprostatic T exposure was associated with worse clinical outcomes after radical prostatectomy.FUNDING National Cancer Institute (NCI), NIH grants R01CA172382, R01CA236780, R01CA261995, R01CA249279, and R50CA251961; US Army Medical Research and Development Command grants W81XWH2010137 and W81XWH-22-1-0082.
Mohammad Alyamani, Patrick Michael, Daniel Hettel, Lewis Thomas, Scott D. Lundy, Mike Berk, Mona Patel, Jianbo Li, Hooman Rashidi, Jesse K. McKenney, Eric A. Klein, Nima Sharifi