- Top of page
- Mechanisms of action of GnRH agonists and antagonists
- GnRH antagonists: Improved testosterone control compared with GnRH agonists
- GnRH antagonists and agonists: Differential effects on PSA control
- GnRH agonists and antagonists: Comparative safety and tolerability data
- Which patients are most suitable for degarelix treatment?
- Conflict of interest
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists and antagonists provide androgen-deprivation therapy for prostate cancer. Unlike agonists, gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonists have a direct mode of action to block pituitary gonadotropin-releasing hormone receptors. There are two licensed gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonists, degarelix and abarelix. Of these, degarelix is the more extensively studied and has been documented to be more effective than the well-established, first-line agonist, leuprolide, in terms of substantially faster onset of castration, faster suppression of prostate-specific antigen, no risk for testosterone surge or clinical flare, and improved prostate-specific antigen progression-free survival, suggesting a delay in castration resistance. Other than minor injection-site reactions, degarelix is generally well tolerated, without systemic allergic reactions and with most adverse events consistent with androgen suppression or the underlying condition. In conclusion, degarelix provides a rational, first-line androgen-deprivation therapy suitable for the treatment of prostate cancer, with faster onset of castration than with agonists, and no testosterone surge. Furthermore, data suggest that degarelix improves disease control compared with leuprolide, and might delay the onset of castration-resistant disease. In view of these clinical benefits and the lack of need for concomitant anti-androgen treatment, gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonists might replace gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists as first-line androgen-deprivation therapy in the future.