Silvestrol, a potential anticancer rocaglate derivative from Aglaia foveolata, induces apoptosis in LNCaP cells through the mitochondrial/apoptosome pathway without activation of executioner caspase-3 or -7.
The novel cyclopenta[b]benzofuran, silvestrol, isolated from the fruits and twigs of Aglaia foveolata, has been found to exhibit very potent in vitro cytotoxic activity against several human cancer cell lines. Furthermore, it was active in the in vivo P388 murine leukemia model. In this study, the mechanism of cytotoxicity mediated by silvestrol in the LNCaP (hormone-dependent human prostate cancer) cell line was investigated. Silvestrol induced an apoptotic response, disrupted the mitochondrial trans-membrane potential and caused cytochrome c release into the cytoplasm. Immunoblot analysis indicated that, at the protein level, silvestrol produced an increase of Bcl-xl phosphorylation with a concomitant increase of bak. Furthermore, caspase-2, -9 and -10 appeared to be involved in silvestrol-mediated apoptosis. In contrast, the involvement of caspase-3 and -7 was not detected, either by immunoblot or caspase-3/-7-like activity analysis, indicating that these pathways do not play a crucial role in silvestrol-induced apoptosis. To investigate the relative contribution of the caspases, inhibition of apoptosis with four different cell-permeable inhibitors was studied (Boc-D-Fmk, Z-VDVAD-FMK Z-LEHD-FMK and Z-AEVD-FMK). Only the general caspase inhibitor, Boc-D-Fmk, completely inhibited the formation of apoptotic bodies. In contrast, caspase-2 and caspase-9 selective inhibitors induced about a 40% reduced apoptotic response, whereas the caspase-10 selective inhibitor caused about a 60% reduction in apoptosis compared to silvestrol only treated cells. Taken together, the studies described herein demonstrate the involvement of the apoptosome/mitochondrial pathway and suggest the possibility that silvestrol may also trigger the extrinsic pathway of programmed cell death signaling in tumor cells.