Induction of apoptosis coupled to endoplasmic reticulum stress in human prostate cancer cells by n-butylidenephthalide

Sheng-Chun Chiu, Shee-Ping Chen, Sung-Ying Huang, Mei-Jen Wang, Shinn-Zong Lin, Horng-Jyh Harn, Cheng-Yoong Pang
PloS One 2012, 7 (3): e33742

BACKGROUND: N-butylidenephthalide (BP) exhibits antitumor effect in a variety of cancer cell lines. The objective of this study was to obtain additional insights into the mechanisms involved in BP induced cell death in human prostate cancer cells.

METHODS/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Two human prostate cancer cell lines, PC-3 and LNCaP, were treated with BP, and subsequently evaluated for their viability and cell cycle profiles. BP caused cell cycle arrest and cell death in both cell lines. The G0/G1 phase arrest was correlated with increase levels of CDK inhibitors (p16, p21 and p27) and decrease of the checkpoint proteins. To determine the mechanisms of BP-induced growth arrest and cell death in prostate cancer cell lines, we performed a microarray study to identify alterations in gene expression induced by BP in the LNCaP cells. Several BP-induced genes, including the GADD153/CHOP, an endoplasmic reticulum stress (ER stress)-regulated gene, were identified. BP-induced ER stress was evidenced by increased expression of the downstream molecules GRP78/BiP, IRE1-α and GADD153/CHOP in both cell lines. Blockage of IRE1-α or GADD153/CHOP expression by siRNA significantly reduced BP-induced cell death in LNCaP cells. Furthermore, blockage of JNK1/2 signaling by JNK siRNA resulted in decreased expression of IRE1-α and GADD153/CHOP genes, implicating that BP-induced ER stress may be elicited via JNK1/2 signaling in prostate cancer cells. BP also suppressed LNCaP xenograft tumor growth in NOD-SCID mice. It caused 68% reduction in tumor volume after 18 days of treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that BP can cause G0/G1 phase arrest in prostate cancer cells and its cytotoxicity is mediated by ER stress induction. Thus, BP may serve as an anticancer agent by inducing ER stress in prostate cancer.

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