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Toxicol In Vitro. 2011 Feb;25(1):199-205. doi: 10.1016/j.tiv.2010.10.020. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Suppression of human prostate cancer PC-3 cell growth by N-acetylcysteine involves over-expression of Cyr61.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, Soonchunhyang University, Cheonan, Republic of Korea.


N-Acetylcysteine (NAC), sulfidryl-containing thiol antioxidant, has been heralded as chemopreventive agent, generally because of its ability to scavenge free radicals. It also suppresses the proliferation of many cancer cells; however, the antiproliferative mechanism(s) remain to be fully elucidated. In this study, we investigated a growth-suppressive mechanism of NAC action in androgen-independent prostate carcinoma PC-3 cells. NAC (≥ 1mM) inhibited the proliferation of PC-3 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Moreover, NAC treatment suppressed the activation of NF-κB induced by IKK-β as detected by the NF-κB reporter gene assay. NAC exerted a biphasic effect on the intracellular ROS levels depending on incubation time; the antioxidant effect was seen within 2h after NAC treatment, however, a pro-oxidant effect was evident after 48 h treatment. In addition to these effects, NAC treatment elicited a dose- and time-dependent increase in the Cyr61 expression that was accompanied by an increase in its mRNA and blocked by cycloheximide pretreatment. Importantly, NAC treatment caused an early but transient activation of Akt and Erk1/2. The NAC-induced increase in Cyr61 protein levels was suppressed by the PI3K inhibitor (Ly294002) and, to a lesser extent, MEK/Erk1/2 inhibitor (PD98059). Taken together, our data suggest that the antiproliferative effect of NAC is partially mediated by intracellular ROS production, the inhibition of NF-κB activity, and the activation of PI3K- and/or MEK/Erk-related intracellular signaling pathways, which lead to up-regulation of Cyr61 expression.

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