Expression of prostate-specific antigen is transcriptionally regulated by genistein in prostate cancer cells

Mol Carcinog. 2002 Jun;34(2):91-101. doi: 10.1002/mc.10053.


Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men in the United States. Unfortunately, there is no effective therapy when prostate cancer becomes metastatic and refractory to conventional treatments. For this reason, the identification and exploration of new agents that reduce prostate cancer cell growth are of paramount importance. High consumption of plant-derived phytoestrogens is inversely associated with the incidence and mortality rate of prostate cancer. Previous studies, including our own, have shown that the phytoestrogen genistein inhibits prostate cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo and decreases secreted and intracellular levels of the androgen-regulated protein prostate-specific antigen (PSA), but the role of genistein as an agonist/antagonist for hormone receptors remains unclear. To elucidate the mechanism by which genistein modulates PSA protein expression in prostate cancer cells, we investigated the effects of genistein on androgen-mediated and estrogen-mediated transcriptional regulation of PSA, androgen receptor (AR) mRNA and protein expression, and the ability of nuclear proteins to bind to androgen-response elements (AREs) in LNCaP cells. We showed that genistein decreased the transcriptional activation of PSA by both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent methods in LNCaP cells. The reduction of androgen-mediated transcriptional activation of PSA was correlated with decreased AR protein and mRNA levels and decreased binding to AREs. In contrast, genistein had differential effects on 17beta-estradiol-mediated PSA expressions. Low concentrations of genistein enhanced 17beta-estradiol-mediated PSA expressions, whereas high concentrations of genistein inhibited estrogen-mediated PSA expression in LNCaP cells. Genistein did not inhibit AR protein expression in the presence of 17beta-estradiol. These results suggest that ligand-dependent differences in the ability to activate PSA expression may contribute to the agonistic/antagonistic responses observed with genistein in prostate cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Probes
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Genistein / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects*
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • DNA Probes
  • Estrogens
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Genistein
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen