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Cancer Res. 2008 Apr 15;68(8):2927-33. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-5759.

Apoptotic activity and mechanism of 2-cyano-3,12-dioxoolean-1,9-dien-28-oic-acid and related synthetic triterpenoids in prostate cancer.

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Burnham Institute for Medical Research, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Synthetic triterpenoids 2-cyano-3, 12-dioxooleana-1, 9-(11)-dien-28-oic acid (CDDO) and CDDO-Me (CDDO-methyl ester) have entered clinical trials for cancer. We determined that CDDO analogues at submicromolar concentrations induce apoptosis of cultured prostate cancer cell lines, LNCaP, ALVA31, Du145, PC3, and PPC1, with lethal dose 50% approximately 1 micromol/L for CDDO-Me and an imidazole analogue (CDDO-Im). These compounds induced apoptosis of prostate cancer cells as characterized by cleavage of caspase-3, caspase-7, caspase-8, caspase-9, caspase-10, BID, and poly(ADP)ribose polymerase and by dependence on caspase activity. Moreover, triterpenoid-induced cell death was abolished by caspase-8-targeting small interfering (si) RNA. To explore the mechanism(s) involved in caspase-8 activation, we examined cell surface expression of death receptor (DR)4 and DR5 after triterpenoid treatment. Cell surface DR4 and DR5 expression was significantly up-regulated by CDDO or CDDO-Im but not by CDDO-Me. DR4 and DR5 knockdown with siRNA significantly inhibited apoptosis induced by CDDO and CDDO-Im but had no effect on CDDO-Me-induced killing, suggesting that CDDO and CDDO-Im induce apoptosis by a different mechanism than CDDO-Me. In addition to activating the caspase-8-dependent extrinsic apoptosis pathway, we observed that Bcl-X(L) overexpression inhibited triterpenoid-mediated killing of prostate cancer cell line Du145, suggesting that the intrinsic pathway (via mitochondria) also participates in triterpenoid-mediated killing. In vivo antitumor activity of CDDO-Me was shown using a Du145 tumor xenograft model in nude rats. Altogether, these findings suggest CDDO and related synthetic triterpenoids should be further evaluated as potential novel therapeutics for hormone refractory prostate cancers.

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