2-Methoxyestradiol (2-ME), an endogenous metabolite of 17beta-estradiol, is present in human blood and urine. Here we show for the first time that 2-ME significantly inhibited the growth of normal prostate epithelial cells and androgen-dependent LNCaP and androgen-independent DU145 prostate cancer cells. This growth inhibition was accompanied by a twofold increase in the G(2)/M population, with a concomitant decrease in the G(1) population, as shown by cell-cycle analysis. 2-ME treatment affected the cell-cycle progression of prostate cancer cells specifically by blocking cells in the G(2) phase. Immunoblot analysis of the key cell-cycle regulatory proteins in the G(2)/M phase showed a 14-fold increase in the expression of p21 and an eightfold increase in the expression of p34 cell division cycle 2 (cdc2). We also found an accumulation of phosphorylated cdc2 after 2-ME treatment. Furthermore, Wee 1 kinase was detectable after 2-ME treatment. 2-ME treatment also led to an increase in the activity of caspase-3, followed by apoptosis, as shown by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine 5-triphosphate-biotin nick end-labeling and fluorescein isothiocyanate-poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase assay. Estrogen receptor levels did not change after treatment with 2-ME. Examination of the signaling pathways that mediate 2-ME-induced apoptosis showed reduction in the level of p53 expression and its DNA-binding activity. Given the fact that p53 mutations are common in patients with metastatic prostate cancer, our finding that 2-ME-mediated growth inhibition of human prostate cancer cells occurred in a p53-independent manner has considerable clinical significance. These findings, combined with the limited toxicity of 2-ME, may have significant implications for alternative treatment of advanced prostate cancer.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.