Lycopodine triggers apoptosis by modulating 5-lipoxygenase, and depolarizing mitochondrial membrane potential in androgen sensitive and refractory prostate cancer cells without modulating p53 activity: signaling cascade and drug-DNA interaction

Eur J Pharmacol. 2013 Jan 5;698(1-3):110-21. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2012.10.041. Epub 2012 Nov 6.


When the prostate cancer cells become unresponsive to androgen therapy, resistance to chemotherapy becomes imminent, resulting in high mortality. To combat this situation, lycopodine, a pharmacologically important bioactive component derived from Lycopodium clavatum spores, was tested against hormone sensitive (LnCaP) and refractory (PC3) prostate cancer cells in vitro. This study aims to check if lycopodine has demonstrable anti-cancer effects and if it has, to find out the possible mechanism of its action. The MTT assay was performed to evaluate the cytotoxic effect. Depolarization of mitochondrial membrane potential, cell cycle, EGF receptor activity and apoptosis were recorded by FACS; profiles of different anti- and pro-apoptotic genes and their products were studied by semi-quantitative RT-PCR, indirect-ELISA, western blotting. Drug-DNA interaction was determined by CD spectroscopy. Administration of lycopodine down-regulated the expression of 5-lipoxygenase and the 5-oxo-ETE receptor (OXE receptor1) and EGF receptor, and caused up-regulation of cytochrome c with depolarization of mitochondrial inner membrane potential, without palpable change in p53 activity, resulting in apoptosis, cell arrest at G0/G1 stage and ultimately reduced proliferation of cancer cells; concomitantly, there was externalization of phosphotidyl serine residues. CD spectroscopic analysis revealed intercalating property of lycopodine with DNA molecule, implicating its ability to block cellular DNA synthesis. The overall results suggest that lycopodine is a promising candidate suitable for therapeutic use as an anti-cancer drug.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / metabolism
  • Alkaloids / pharmacology*
  • Androgens / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase / metabolism*
  • Cattle
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Fragmentation / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial / drug effects*
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation / drug effects
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Quinolizines / metabolism
  • Quinolizines / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism


  • Alkaloids
  • Androgens
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Quinolizines
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • lycopodine
  • DNA
  • Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase