Calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol) potentiates activity of mitoxantrone/dexamethasone in an androgen independent prostate cancer model

J Urol. 2002 Aug;168(2):756-61.


Purpose: Mitoxantrone combined with glucocorticoids is widely used for androgen independent prostate cancer. It is well tolerated, reduces prostate specific antigen, diminishes pain and improves quality of life. Calcitriol (1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol) inhibits proliferation, modulates cell cycle progression, induces apoptosis and potentiates the cytotoxic effects of a number of agents. Glucocorticoids potentiate the antitumor effects of calcitriol and blunt calcitriol induced hypercalcemia. Therefore, we investigated the effect of calcitriol on the antitumor efficacy of mitoxantrone and dexamethasone or mitoxantrone/dexamethasone in the PC-3 androgen independent prostate cancer model.

Materials and methods: We treated PC-3 cells in vitro with various concentrations of mitoxantrone/dexamethasone with and without calcitriol, and assessed growth inhibition by crystal violet assays. We similarly treated mice bearing PC-3 xenografts and performed excision clonogenic assays and tumor outgrowth studies to assess antitumor activity.

Results: Calcitriol significantly increased mitoxantrone/dexamethasone mediated growth inhibition in PC-3 cells (p <0.05). Median dose effect analysis indicated that calcitriol is synergistic with mitoxantrone. Adding calcitriol to mitoxantrone/dexamethasone significantly reduced the surviving fraction per gm. tumor compared with mitoxantrone/dexamethasone or untreated controls (p <0.03). Calcitriol plus mitoxantrone/dexamethasone also caused significantly greater tumor regression in PC-3 xenografts compared with treatment with mitoxantrone/dexamethasone or untreated controls (p <0.02).

Conclusions: These preclinical data demonstrate that calcitriol increases the antitumor activity of mitoxantrone/dexamethasone in the PC-3 model system. This combination may be efficacious for prostate cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Calcitriol / pharmacology*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mitoxantrone / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / pathology
  • Tumor Stem Cell Assay


  • Dexamethasone
  • Mitoxantrone
  • Calcitriol