Modulation of activator protein-1 (AP-1) and MAPK pathway by flavonoids in human prostate cancer PC3 cells

Arch Pharm Res. 2006 Aug;29(8):633-44. doi: 10.1007/BF02968247.


In last couple of decades the use of natural compounds like flavonoids as chemopreventive agents has gained much attention. Our current study focuses on identifying chemopreventive flavonoids and their mechanism of action on human prostate cancer cells. Human prostate cancer cells (PC3), stably transfected with activator protein 1 (AP-1) luciferase reporter gene were treated with four main classes of flavonoids namely flavonols, flavones, flavonones, and isoflavones. The maximum AP-1 luciferase induction of about 3 fold over control was observed with 20 microM concentrations of quercetin, chrysin and genistein and 50 microM concentration of kaempferol. At higher concentrations, most of the flavonoids demonstrated inhibition of AP-1 activity. The MTS assay for cell viability at 24 h showed that even at a very high concentration (500 microM), cell death was minimal for most of the flavonoids. To determine the role of MAPK pathway in the induction of AP-1 by flavonoids, Western blot of phospho MAPK proteins was performed. Four out of the eight flavonoids namely kaempferol, apigenin, genistein and naringenin were used for the Western Blot analysis. Induction of phospho-JNK and phospho-ERK activity was observed after two hour incubation of PC3-AP1 cells with flavonoids. However no induction of phospho-p38 activity was observed. Furthermore, pretreating the cells with specific inhibitors of JNK reduced the AP-1 luciferase activity that was induced by genistein while pretreatment with MEK inhibitor reduced the AP-1 luciferase activity induced by kaempferol. The pharmacological inhibitors did not affect the AP-1 luciferase activity induced by apigenin and naringenin. These results suggest the possible involvement of JNK pathway in genistein induced AP-1 activity while the ERK pathway seems to play an important role in kaempferol induced AP-1 activity.

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Humans
  • Luciferases / biosynthesis
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 8 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 8 / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 9 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 9 / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation
  • Prostatic Neoplasms
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Transcription Factor AP-1 / genetics
  • Transcription Factor AP-1 / physiology*
  • Transcriptional Activation / drug effects
  • Transfection


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Flavonoids
  • Transcription Factor AP-1
  • Luciferases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 9
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 8