Our research is aimed at obtaining a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the anti-proliferative and cancer preventive effects of calcitriol with the goal of developing strategies to improve the treatment of prostate cancer (PCa). In PCa cells calcitriol inhibits the synthesis and biological actions of prostaglandins (PGs) by three actions: (i) the inhibition of the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), the enzyme that synthesizes PGs, (ii) the upregulation of the expression of 15-prostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH), the enzyme that inactivates PGs and (iii) decreasing the expression of EP and FP PG receptors that are essential for PG signaling. Since PGs have been shown to promote carcinogenesis and progression of multiple cancers, we hypothesize that the inhibition of the PG pathway contributes to the ability of calcitriol to prevent or inhibit PCa development and growth. We have shown that the combination of calcitriol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) result in a synergistic inhibition of the growth of PCa cell cultures and this combination therapy offers a potential therapeutic strategy. These findings led us to embark on a clinical trial combining the non-selective NSAID naproxen with calcitriol in men with early recurrent PCa. The results indicate that the combination of high dose weekly calcitriol with naproxen slows the rate of rise (doubling time) of PSA in most patients indicating the slowing of disease progression. Further studies are warranted to determine the role of this combination therapy in the management of recurrent PCa.
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