International journal of oncology

Sulforaphane increases the efficacy of anti-androgens by rapidly decreasing androgen receptor levels in prostate cancer cells.

PMID 27499349


Prostate cancer (PCa) cells utilize androgen for their growth. Hence, androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) using anti-androgens, e.g. bicalutamide (BIC) and enzalutamide (ENZ), is a mainstay of treatment. However, the outgrowth of castration resistant PCa (CRPC) cells remains a significant problem. These CRPC cells express androgen receptor (AR) and utilize the intratumoral androgen towards their continued growth and invasion. Sulforaphane (SFN), a naturally occurring isothiocyanate found in cruciferous vegetables, can decrease AR protein levels. In the present study, we tested the combined efficacy of anti-androgens and SFN in suppressing PCa cell growth, motility and clonogenic ability. Both androgen-dependent (LNCaP) and androgen-independent (C4-2B) cells were used to monitor the effects of BIC and ENZ, alone and in combination with SFN. Co-exposure to SFN significantly (p<0.005) enhanced the anti-proliferative effects of anti-androgens and downregulated expression of the AR-responsive gene, prostate specific antigen (PSA) (p<0.05). Exposure to SFN decreased AR protein levels in a time- and dose-dependent manner with almost no AR detected at 24 h with 15 µM SFN (p<0.005). This rapid and potent AR suppression by SFN occurred by both AR protein degradation, as suggested by cycloheximide (CHX) co-exposure studies, and by suppression of AR gene expression, as evident from quantitative RT-PCR experiments. Pre-exposure to SFN also reduced R1881-stimulated nuclear localization of AR, and combined treatment with SFN and anti-androgens abrogated the mitogenic effects of this AR-agonist (p<0.005). Wound-healing assays revealed that co-exposure to SFN and anti-androgens can significantly (p<0.005) reduce PCa cell migration. In addition, long-term exposures (14 days) to much lower concentrations of these agents, SFN (0.2 µM), BIC (1 µM) and/or ENZ (0.4 µM) significantly (p<0.005) decreased the number of colony forming units (CFUs). These findings clearly suggest that SFN may be used as a promising adjunct agent to augment the efficacy of anti-androgens against aggressive PCa cells.