The IGF axis is critical for the regulation of apoptosis in many human cancer cell lines. Recently, potent anti-tumorigenic effects of pomegranate juice and extracts have been reported. Consequently, pomegranate has potential not only as a treatment but also as a preventative measure against certain types of cancer, including prostate. In this study, we investigated the relationship between pomegranate-induced apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells and the IGF/IGFBP system. Treatment of LAPC4 prostate cancer cells with 10microg/ml POMx, a highly potent pomegranate extract prepared from skin and arils minus seeds and standardized to ellagitannin content (37% punicalagins by HPLC), resulted in inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Interestingly, co-treatment with POMx and IGFBP-3 revealed synergistic stimulation of apoptosis and additive inhibition of cell growth. Western blot analysis revealed that treatment with POMx or POMx/IGFBP-3 combination resulted in increased JNK phosphorylation, and decreased Akt and mTOR activation, consistent with a growth inhibitory, pro-apoptotic function. We also investigated the relationship between IGF-1 and pomegranate-induced apoptosis in 22RV1 prostate cancer cells. Co-treatment with 100ng/ml IGF-1 completely blocked apoptosis induction by POMx. In contrast, IGF-I failed to inhibit POMx-induced apoptosis in R(-) cells, suggesting the importance of IGF-IR. POMx-treatment decreased Igf1 mRNA expression in a dose-dependent manner indicating that its actions also involve tumor-specific suppression of IGF-1. These studies revealed novel interactions between the IGF system and pomegranate-induced apoptosis.
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