AR’s Role in Male and Female Diseases
The physiological role of AR is diverse and includes the regulation of male sexual differentiation, sperm production, and muscle mass maintenance. In addition, AR has been implicated in the development and progression of prostate cancer, a disease that affects millions of men worldwide. Androgen receptors are found inside the cells of male reproductive tissue and some cancer cells. In prostate cancer, androgens bind to androgen receptors inside the cancer cells, which causes the cancer cells to grow.
While the Androgen Receptor (AR) is traditionally associated with male physiology, it also plays important roles in women. Women produce androgens, such as testosterone and DHT, in their ovaries and adrenal glands, and these hormones can interact with AR to regulate various physiological processes. For example, in women, AR is involved in the regulation of bone density, muscle mass, and sexual function. In addition, some studies have suggested that AR signaling may contribute to the development of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects women and is characterized by irregular menstrual cycles, insulin resistance, and excess androgen production.
Several types of chemicals can interact with AR, including endogenous and exogenous ligands. Endogenous ligands for the AR include testosterone and DHT, while exogenous ligands include anabolic steroids, such as oxandrolone and stanozolol. In addition, environmental pollutants such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates have been shown to interact with AR and may have adverse effects on human health.
AR’s Role in Drug Discovery
There is significant interest in AR as a drug discovery target, particularly for the treatment of prostate cancer. Several drugs that target AR, including enzalutamide and abiraterone, have been approved for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. However, the development of resistance to these drugs is a significant clinical challenge, and new AR-targeted therapies are needed. AR-targeted therapies are also being explored for the treatment of breast cancer in women. While breast cancer is traditionally thought of as an estrogen-driven disease, AR is expressed in up to 90% of breast tumors, and its signaling can promote tumor growth and metastasis. Therefore, targeting AR may be a promising therapeutic strategy for certain types of breast cancer.