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Mol Cancer Ther. 2004 Aug;3(8):933-40.

Sanguinarine causes cell cycle blockade and apoptosis of human prostate carcinoma cells via modulation of cyclin kinase inhibitor-cyclin-cyclin-dependent kinase machinery.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Wisconsin Medical Science Center, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in males in the United States. This warrants the development of novel mechanism-based strategies for the prevention and/or treatment of prostate cancer. Several studies have shown that plant-derived alkaloids possess remarkable anticancer effects. Sanguinarine, an alkaloid derived from the bloodroot plant Sanguinaria canadensis, has been shown to possess antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Previously, we have shown that sanguinarine possesses strong antiproliferative and proapoptotic properties against human epidermoid carcinoma A431 cells and immortalized human HaCaT keratinocytes. Here, employing androgen-responsive human prostate carcinoma LNCaP cells and androgen-unresponsive human prostate carcinoma DU145 cells, we studied the antiproliferative properties of sanguinarine against prostate cancer. Sanguinarine (0.1-2 micromol/L) treatment of LNCaP and DU145 cells for 24 hours resulted in dose-dependent (1) inhibition of cell growth [as evaluated by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay], (2) arrest of cells in G0-G1 phase of the cell cycle (as assessed by DNA cell cycle analysis), and (3) induction of apoptosis (as evaluated by DNA ladder formation and flow cytometry). To define the mechanism of antiproliferative effects of sanguinarine against prostate cancer, we studied the effect of sanguinarine on critical molecular events known to regulate the cell cycle and the apoptotic machinery. Immunoblot analysis showed that sanguinarine treatment of both LNCaP and DU145 cells resulted in significant (1) induction of cyclin kinase inhibitors p21/WAF1 and p27/KIP1; (2) down-regulation of cyclin E, D1, and D2; and (3) down-regulation of cyclin-dependent kinase 2, 4, and 6. A highlight of this study was the fact that sanguinarine induced growth inhibitory and antiproliferative effects in human prostate carcinoma cells irrespective of their androgen status. To our knowledge, this is the first study showing the involvement of cyclin kinase inhibitor-cyclin-cyclin-dependent kinase machinery during cell cycle arrest and apoptosis of prostate cancer cells by sanguinarine. These results suggest that sanguinarine may be developed as an agent for the management of prostate cancer.

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