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PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e20164. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020164. Epub 2011 May 23.

Diosgenin, a steroidal saponin, inhibits migration and invasion of human prostate cancer PC-3 cells by reducing matrix metalloproteinases expression.

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Department of Biotechnology, Chia Nan University of Pharmacy and Science, Tainan, Taiwan.



Diosgenin, a steroidal saponin obtained from fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum), was found to exert anti-carcinogenic properties, such as inhibiting proliferation and inducing apoptosis in a variety of tumor cells. However, the effect of diosgenin on cancer metastasis remains unclear. The aim of the study is to examine the effect of diosgenin on migration and invasion in human prostate cancer PC-3 cells.


Diosgenin inhibited proliferation of PC-3 cells in a dose-dependent manner. When treated with non-toxic doses of diosgenin, cell migration and invasion were markedly suppressed by in vitro wound healing assay and Boyden chamber invasion assay, respectively. Furthermore, diosgenin reduced the activities of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and MMP-9 by gelatin zymography assay. The mRNA level of MMP-2, -9, -7 and extracellular inducer of matrix metalloproteinase (EMMPRIN) were also suppressed while tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-2 (TIMP-2) was increased by diosgenin. In addition, diosgenin abolished the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in PC-3 cells and tube formation of endothelial cells. Our immunoblotting assays indicated that diosgenin potently suppressed the phosphorylation of phosphatidylinositide-3 kinase (PI3K), Akt, extracellular signal regulating kinase (ERK) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). In addition, diosgenin significantly decreased the nuclear level of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), suggesting that diosgenin inhibited NF-κB activity.


The results suggested that diosgenin inhibited migration and invasion of PC-3 cells by reducing MMPs expression. It also inhibited ERK, JNK and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways as well as NF-κB activity. These findings reveal new therapeutic potential for diosgenin in anti-metastatic therapy.

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