D,L-Sulforaphane causes transcriptional repression of androgen receptor in human prostate cancer cells

Mol Cancer Ther. 2009 Jul;8(7):1946-54. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-09-0104. Epub 2009 Jul 7.


D,L-Sulforaphane (SFN), a synthetic analogue of cruciferous vegetable-derived L-isomer, inhibits the growth of human prostate cancer cells in culture and in vivo and retards cancer development in a transgenic mouse model of prostate cancer. We now show that SFN treatment causes transcriptional repression of androgen receptor (AR) in LNCaP and C4-2 human prostate cancer cells at pharmacologic concentrations. Exposure of LNCaP and C4-2 cells to SFN resulted in a concentration-dependent and time-dependent decrease in protein levels of total AR as well as Ser(210/213)-phosphorylated AR. The SFN-mediated decline in AR protein level was accompanied by a decrease in intracellular as well as secreted levels of prostate-specific antigen, an AR-regulated gene product. The decrease in AR protein level resulting from SFN exposure was not reversed in the presence of the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide. Reverse transcription-PCR analysis revealed a dose-dependent decrease in AR mRNA levels, indicating transcriptional repression of this ligand-activated transcription factor. The SFN treatment inhibited AR promoter activity as revealed by luciferase reporter assay. Synthetic androgen (R1881)-stimulated nuclear translocation of AR was markedly suppressed in the presence of SFN in both cell lines. The SFN treatment also inhibited R1881-stimulated proliferation of LNCaP cells. Naturally occurring thio analogues (iberverin, erucin, and berteroin), but not the sulfonyl analogues (cheirolin, erysolin, and alyssin sulfone), of SFN were also effective in reducing protein levels of AR in LNCaP cells. In conclusion, the present study shows for the first time that SFN treatment causes transcriptional repression of AR and inhibition of its nuclear localization in human prostate cancer cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / genetics*
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / metabolism
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics*
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sulfoxides
  • Thiocyanates / pharmacology*
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • AR protein, human
  • Androgen Receptor Antagonists
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Isothiocyanates
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Sulfoxides
  • Thiocyanates
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen
  • sulforaphane