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Clin Cancer Res. 2004 May 1;10(9):3169-78.

Suppression of constitutive and tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB activation and induction of apoptosis by apigenin in human prostate carcinoma PC-3 cells: correlation with down-regulation of NF-kappaB-responsive genes.

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  • 1Department of Urology, The James and Eillen Dicke Research Laboratory, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.



Development of androgen independence and resistance to apoptosis in prostate cancer are often correlated with high levels of serum tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha in these patients. The loss of sensitivity to TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis in androgen-insensitive prostate carcinoma cells is due in part to constitutive activation of Rel/nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB transcription factors that regulate several cell survival and antiapoptotic genes. Our previous studies have demonstrated growth inhibitory and apoptotic effects of apigenin, a common plant flavonoid, in a variety of human prostate carcinoma cells. Here we examined whether apigenin is effective in inhibiting NF-kappaB expression in androgen-insensitive human prostate carcinoma cells exhibiting high constitutive levels of NF-kappaB.


Using androgen-insensitive human prostate carcinoma PC-3 cells, the effect of apigenin was assessed on NF-kappaB activation by electrophoretic mobility shift assay and reporter gene assay. Expression of NF-kappaB subunits p65 and p50, IkappaBalpha, p-IkappaBalpha, in-beads kinase assay and NF-kappaB-regulated genes were determined by Western blot analysis. Apoptosis was determined by annexin V/propidium iodide staining after fluorescence-activated cell-sorting analysis.


Treatment of cells with 10-40- micro M doses of apigenin inhibited DNA binding and reduced nuclear levels of the p65 and p50 subunits of NF-kappaB. Apigenin inhibited IkappaBalpha degradation and IkappaBalpha phosphorylation and significantly decreased IKKalpha kinase activity. Apigenin also inhibited TNF-alpha-induced activation of NF-kappaB via the IkappaBalpha pathway, thereby sensitizing the cells to TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis. The inhibition of NF-kappaB activation correlated with a decreased expression of NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene and suppressed expression of NF-kappaB-regulated genes [specifically, Bcl2, cyclin D1, cyclooxygenase-2, matrix metalloproteinase 9, nitric oxide synthase-2 (NOS-2), and vascular endothelial growth factor].


Our results indicate that inhibition of NF-kappaB by apigenin may lead to prostate cancer suppression by transcriptional repression of NF-kappaB-responsive genes as well as selective sensitization of prostate carcinoma cells to TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis.

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