The formation of steroid hormones in peripheral target tissues is referred to as their intracrine formation. This process occurs in hormone dependent malignancies such as prostate and breast cancer in which the disease can be either castrate resistant or occur post-menopausally, respectively. In these instances, the major precursor steroid of androgens and estrogens is dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and DHEA-SO4.
This article reviews the major pathways by which adrenal steroids are converted to the potent male sex hormones, testosterone (T) and 5α-dihydrotestosterone (5α-DHT) and the discrete enzyme isoforms involved in castration resistant prostate cancer.
Previous studies have mainly utilized radiotracers to investigate these pathways but have not used prevailing concentrations of precursors found in castrate male human serum. In addition, the full power of stable-isotope dilution liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry has not been applied routinely.
Furthermore, it is clear that adaptive responses occur in the transporters and enzyme isoforms involved in response to androgen deprivation therapy that need to be considered.