Abiraterone acetate is an irreversible 17α-hydroxylase/C17, 20-lyase (CYP17) inhibitor approved for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) patients. Inhibition of this enzyme leads to low testosterone and cortisol levels in blood. There is growing evidence that clinical efficacy of abiraterone is related to the rate of suppression of serum testosterone. However, quantification of very low levels of circulating testosterone is challenging. We therefore aimed to investigate whether circulating cortisol levels could be used as a surrogate biomarker for CYP17 inhibition in patients with mCRPC treated with abiraterone acetate.
Our study shows that cortisol is not an independent predictor of abiraterone response in patients with mCRPC, but it is of added value in combination with abiraterone levels, to predict a response on abiraterone.
mCRPC patients treated with abiraterone acetate were included. Abiraterone and cortisol levels were measured with a validated liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). On treatment cortisol and abiraterone concentrations were related to treatment response and progression free survival.
In total 117 patients were included with a median cortisol concentration of 1.13 ng/ml (range: 0.03 - 82.2) and median abiraterone trough concentration (Cmin) of 10.2 ng/ml (range: 0.58 - 92.1). In the survival analyses, abiraterone Cmin ≥ 8.4 ng/mL and cortisol < 2.24 ng/mL were associated with a longer prostate-specific antigen (PSA) independent progression-free survival than patients with an abiraterone concentration ≥ 8.4 ng/mL and a cortisol concentration ≥ 2.24 ng/mL (13.8 months vs. 3.7 months).