Antitumoral action of icaritin in LNCaP prostate cancer cells by regulating PEA3/HER2/AR signaling

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Human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2) and androgen receptor (AR) are critical factors for prostate cancer (PCa) progression. These factors regulate tumor cell survival and proliferation, and remain as crucial drivers of castration-resistant PCa progression. Icaritin (ICT) is a prenyl flavonoid derived from the Epimedium genus, which has many biological and pharmacological effects. Using androgen-sensitive human prostate carcinoma LNCaP cell lines, we found that 35 μg/ml of ICT could inhibit more than 50% of cell proliferation, induce cell apoptosis, and lead to a strong G1 phase arrest by targeting cyclin-related proteins and suppressing the ability of cell invasion. Moreover, ICT exerts its potent anticancer efficacy by inducing polyomavirus enhancer activator 3 (PEA3) to inhibit the aberrantly activated HER2/AR signaling. In addition, after PEA3 expression was silenced by specific small-interference RNA, we found that both the ICT-inhibited effect on LNCaP cell proliferation and the ICT-induced cell apoptosis rate decreased. These results provide alternative mechanisms for the antitumor actions of ICT, indicating that ICT might be a promising therapeutic agent, as well as a preventive agent, for hormone therapy-resistant PCa.

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