Jacaric acid and its octadecatrienoic acid geoisomers induce apoptosis selectively in cancerous human prostate cells: a mechanistic and 3-D structure-activity study

Phytomedicine. 2013 Jun 15;20(8-9):734-42. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2013.01.012. Epub 2013 Feb 27.


Plant-derived non-essential fatty acids are important dietary nutrients, and some are purported to have chemopreventive properties against various cancers, including that of the prostate. In this study, we determined the ability of seven dietary C-18 fatty acids to cause cytotoxicity and induce apoptosis in various types of human prostate cancer cells. These fatty acids included jacaric and punicic acid found in jacaranda and pomegranate seed oil, respectively, three octadecatrienoic geometric isomers (alpha- and beta-calendic and catalpic acid) and two mono-unsaturated C-18 fatty acids (trans- and cis-vaccenic acid). Jacaric acid and four of its octadecatrienoic geoisomers selectively induced apoptosis in hormone-dependent (LNCaP) and -independent (PC-3) human prostate cancer cells, whilst not affecting the viability of normal human prostate epithelial cells (RWPE-1). Jacaric acid induced concentration- and time-depedent LNCaP cell death through activation of intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways resulting in cleavage of PARP-1, modulation of pro- and antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family of proteins and increased cleavage of caspase-3, -8 and -9. Moreover, activation of a cell death-inducing signalling cascade involving death receptor 5 was observed. Jacaric acid induced apoptosis in PC-3 cells by activation of the intrinsic pathway only. The spatial conformation cis, trans, cis of jacaric and punicic acid was shown to play a key role in the increased potency and efficacy of these two fatty acids in comparison to the five other C-18 fatty acids tested. Three-dimensional conformational analysis using the PubChem Database (http://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) showed that the cytotoxic potency of the C-18 fatty acids was related to their degree of conformational similarity to our cytotoxic reference compound, punicic acid, based on optimized shape (ST) and feature (CT) similarity scores, with jacaric acid being most 'biosimilar' (ST(ST-opt)=0.81; CT(CT-opt)=0.45). This 3-D analysis of structural similarity enabled us to rank geoisomeric fatty acids according to cytotoxic potency, whereas a 2-D positional assessment of cis/trans structure did not. Our findings provide mechanistic evidence that nutrition-derived non-essential fatty acids have chemopreventive biological activities and Exhibit 3-D structure-activity relationships that could be exploited to develop new strategies for the prevention or treatment of prostate cancer regardless of hormone dependency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / drug effects
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism
  • Bignoniaceae / chemistry
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Databases, Chemical
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / isolation & purification
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Linolenic Acids / chemistry
  • Linolenic Acids / isolation & purification
  • Linolenic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Lythraceae / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Models, Structural
  • Oleic Acids / chemistry
  • Oleic Acids / isolation & purification
  • Oleic Acids / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / isolation & purification
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Time Factors


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Fatty Acids
  • Linolenic Acids
  • Oleic Acids
  • Plant Oils
  • jacaric acid
  • cis-vaccenic acid
  • punicic acid