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Cancer Res. 1995 Sep 1;55(17):3712-5.

Induction of apoptosis by beta-lapachone in human prostate cancer cells.

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Division of Cell Growth and Regulation, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


beta-Lapachone, a plant product, has been shown to be a novel inhibitor of DNA topoisomerase I, with a mode of action different from camptothecin and a chemical structure distinct from those of current anti-cancer drugs. We observed that beta-lapachone, at concentrations of less than 8 microM, induces cell death with characteristics of apoptosis in human prostate cancer cell lines. This effect of beta-lapachone was also observed in a human promyelocytic leukemia cell line (HL-60). beta-Lapachone-induced apoptosis is independent of p53 expression, and ectopic overexpression of bcl-2 did not confer significant resistance to beta-lapachone. Among other human carcinoma and adenoma cell lines tested, human breast and ovary carcinoma showed sensitivity to the cytotoxic effect of beta-lapachone without manifesting signs of apoptosis. These results suggest that beta-lapachone is a potential compound to be added to cancer chemotherapy, particularly for prostate cancer.

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