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Cancer Lett. 2009 Jul 18;280(1):93-100. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2009.02.024. Epub 2009 Mar 16.

Cyclooxygenase-2/prostaglandin E2 pathway mediates icariside II induced apoptosis in human PC-3 prostate cancer cells.

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  • 1College of Oriental Medicine, Kyunghee University, Cancer Preventive Material Development Research Center, 1 Hoegi-Dong Dongdaemun-Gu, Seoul 130-701, Republic of Korea.


Icariside II (IS) isolated from the roots of Epimedium koreanum Nakai was known to have antioxidant activity and inhibit melanogenesis and hypoxia inducible factor. We report here for the first time that IS induces apoptosis through its anti-inflammatory effects in PC-3 prostate cancer cells. IS exerted cytotoxicity against PC-3 cells with IC(50) of approximately 20 microM. IS suppressed both constitutive and arachidonic acid (AA)-induced cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression as well as reduced prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) levels in PC-3 cells even at a low concentrations (5 and 10 microM). Additionally, IS increased sub G1 apoptotic portion and exhibited terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL)-positive apoptotic bodies in PC-3 cells at higher concentrations (20 and 40 microM). Furthermore, IS attenuated the mitochondrial membrane potential, released cytochrome C into cytosol, activated caspase-9, -8, and -3 expressions and cleaved poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) in PC-3 cells. Consistently, COX-2, inducible NO synthase (iNOS), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expressions were suppressed while in parallel inducing apoptosis in hormone-independent prostate carcinoma cells PC-3. Moreover, exogeneous PGE2 inhibited IS induced PARP cleavage in PC-3 cells and also knockdown of COX-2 by siRNA potentiated IS induced PARP cleavage, thereby implicating the critical role of COX-2 pathway in IS induced apoptosis. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that IS initiates the inhibition of COX-2/PGE(2) pathway and then induces apoptosis mainly via mitochondrial dependent pathway in PC-3 prostate cancer cells as a potent cancer chemotherapeutic agent.

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