The 2016 Durden Foundation – PCF Creativity Award

Alicia Morgans, MD
Vanderbilt University

Proposal Title: Cognitive Effects of Androgen Receptor (AR) Directed Therapies for Advanced Prostate Cancer: Defining the Role of AR in the Central Nervous System

• The androgen receptor (AR) is hypothesized to play a role in certain regions of the brain as low levels of androgens have been associated with decreases in cognitive function in men. Determining whether treatment of prostate cancer patients with androgen deprivation therapies (ADT) can cause cognitive dysfunction is critical for maximizing patient quality of life.
• Dr. Alicia Morgans is conducting a study to examine the impact of androgen-targeting therapies on cognitive function in prostate cancer patients and to elucidate the role of AR in the central nervous system.
• Neurologic imaging techniques will be used to evaluate the distribution and activity of AR in the brains of metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) patients undergoing treatment with the androgen-targeting therapies, enzalutamide and abiraterone acetate.
• Measures associated with cognitive function (quality of life, depression, pain, fatigue), and systemic levels of androgens will be evaluated over time in these men in order to determine associations between cognitive functions and androgen levels, and to determine whether these treatments impact cognitive function.
• The association between neurologic imaging findings and the cognitive function of prostate cancer patients undergoing treatment with androgen-targeted therapies will be determined.
• If successful, this project will determine whether enzalutamide or abiraterone acetate are associated with declines in cognitive function and will define a standardized method for measuring cognitive function in men with prostate cancer for use in future studies.

What this means for patients: Preliminary studies have indicated that treatment with androgen-targeted therapies may result in decreased cognitive function in prostate cancer patients. Dr. Morgans will evaluate the relationships between treatment with androgen-targeting therapies, androgen levels, and cognitive function in prostate cancer patients. This will lead to new understandings on how to maximize patient quality of life and the development of a standardized method for evaluating cognitive function in men with prostate cancer.