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Apoptosis. 2006 Jan;11(1):89-99.

Induction of apoptosis in prostate tumor PC-3 cells and inhibition of xenograft prostate tumor growth by the vanilloid capsaicin.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine, University of Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, 28871, Spain.


Capsaicin, the pungent ingredient of hot chilli pepper, has been recently shown to induce apoptosis in several cell lines through a not well known mechanism. Here, we investigated the role of the vanilloid capsaicin in the death regulation of the human cancer androgen-resistant cell line PC-3. Capsaicin inhibited the growth of PC-3 with an IC(50) of 20 microM cells and induced cell apoptosis, as assessed by flow cytometry and nuclei staining with DAPI. Capsaicin induced apoptosis in prostate cells by a mechanism involving reactive oxygen species generation, dissipation of the mitochondrial inner transmembrane potential (DeltaPsi(m)) and activation of caspase 3. Capsaicin-induced apoptosis was not reduced by the antagonist capsazepine in a dose range from 0.1 microM to 20 microM, suggesting a receptor-independent mechanism. To study the in vivo effects of capsaicinoids, PC-3 cells were grown as xenografts in nude mice. Subcutaneous injection of either capsaicin or capsazepine (5 mg/kg body weight) in nude mice suppressed PC-3 tumor growth in all tumors investigated and induced apoptosis of tumor cells. Our data show a role for capsaicin against androgen-independent prostate cancer cells in vitro and in vivo and suggest that capsaicin is a promising anti-tumor agent in hormone-refractory prostate cancer, which shows resistance to many chemotherapeutic agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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