A protein that confers a worse prognosis in bladder cancer when present in high levels may be regulated by androgens, suggesting a role for antiandrogen agents in the treatment of this disease.

Overexpression of the protein CD24 is associated with poor outcomes in urothelial carcinoma and contributes to tumor growth and metastasis.

Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, of the University of Colorado Cancer Center in Aurora, and colleagues reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that mice—particularly male mice—unable to produce CD24 had fewer primary bladder tumors and metastases than did mice with intact CD24 levels.

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In human tumor samples, higher rates of relapse and shorter disease-free survival were associated with higher CD24 levels, again especially in males. Because such findings implied androgen involvement, the researchers knocked down androgen receptors in human bladder cancer cell lines, and observed a corresponding drop in CD24 levels as well as reduced cell proliferation.