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J Cell Biochem. 2013 May;114(5):1124-34. doi: 10.1002/jcb.24455.

Interplay of reactive oxygen species, intracellular Ca2+ and mitochondrial homeostasis in the apoptosis of prostate cancer cells by deoxypodophyllotoxin.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Pusan National University School of Medicine, Yangsan 626-870, Republic of Korea.


The limited treatment option for recurrent prostate cancer and the eventual resistance to conventional chemotherapy drugs has fueled continued interest in finding new anti-neoplastic agents of natural product origin. We previously reported anti-proliferative activity of deoxypodophyllotoxin (DPT) on human prostate cancer cells. Using the PC-3 cell model of human prostate cancer, the present study reveals that DPT induced apoptosis via a caspase-3-dependent pathway that is activated due to dysregulated mitochondrial function. DPT-treated cells showed accumulation of the reactive oxygen species (ROS), intracellular Ca (i)(2+) surge, increased mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP, ΔΨ(m)), Bax protein translocation to mitochondria and cytochrome c release to the cytoplasm. This resulted in caspase-3 activation, which in turn induced apoptosis. The antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) reduced ROS accumulation, MMP and Ca (i)(2+) surge, on the other hand the Ca(2+) chelator BAPTA inhibited the Ca( i)(2+) overload and MMP without affecting the increase of ROS, indicating that the generation of ROS occurred prior to Ca(2+) flux. This suggested that both ROS and Ca( i)(2+) signaling play roles in the increased MMP via Ca (i)(2+)-dependent and/or -independent mechanisms, since ΔΨ(m) elevation was reversed by NAC and BAPTA. This study provides the first evidence for the involvement of both ROS- and Ca( i)(2+)-activated signals in the disruption of mitochondrial homeostasis and the precedence of ROS production over the failure of Ca(2+) flux homeostasis.

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