Journal of cellular biochemistry

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

PMID 23192945


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.