Elevated interleukin-6 (IL-6), a major mediator of the inflammatory response, has been implicated in androgen receptor (AR) activation, cellular growth and differentiation, plays important roles in the development and progression of prostate cancer, and is a potential target in cancer therapy. Through drug screening using human prostate cancer cells expressing IL-6 autocrine loop, we found that andrographolide, a diterpenoid lactone isolated from a traditional Chinese and Indian medicinal plant Andrographis paniculata, could inhibit IL-6 expression and suppress IL-6-mediated signals. Andrographolide inhibits IL-6 expression at both mRNA and protein levels in a dose-dependent manner. Andrographolide suppresses both IL-6 autocrine loop- and paracrine loop-induced cell signaling including Stat3 and Erk phosphorylation. Furthermore, andrographolide inhibits cell viability and induces apoptotic cell death in both androgen-stimulated and castration-resistant human prostate cancer cells without causing significant toxicity to normal immortalized prostate epithelial cells. Moreover, treatment of andrographolide to mice bearing castration-resistant DU145 human prostate tumors that express constitutive IL-6 autocrine loop significantly suppresses tumor growth. Taken together, these results demonstrate that andrographolide could be developed as a therapeutic agent to treat both androgen-stimulated and castration-resistant prostate cancer possibly by suppressing IL-6 expression and IL-6-induced signaling.
Keywords: andrographolide; interleukin-6; prostate cancer.