Piperine, a Bioactive Component of Pepper Spice Exerts Therapeutic Effects on Androgen Dependent and Androgen Independent Prostate Cancer Cells

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 18;8(6):e65889. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065889. Print 2013.


Prostate cancer is the most common solid malignancy in men, with 32,000 deaths annually. Piperine, a major alkaloid constituent of black pepper, has previously been reported to have anti-cancer activity in variety of cancer cell lines. The effect of piperine against prostate cancer is not currently known. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the anti-tumor mechanisms of piperine on androgen dependent and androgen independent prostate cancer cells. Here, we show that piperine inhibited the proliferation of LNCaP, PC-3, 22RV1 and DU-145 prostate cancer cells in a dose dependent manner. Furthermore, Annexin-V staining demonstrated that piperine treatment induced apoptosis in hormone dependent prostate cancer cells (LNCaP). Using global caspase activation assay, we show that piperine-induced apoptosis resulted in caspase activation in LNCaP and PC-3 cells. Further studies revealed that piperine treatment resulted in the activation of caspase-3 and cleavage of PARP-1 proteins in LNCaP, PC-3 and DU-145 prostate cancer cells. Piperine treatment also disrupted androgen receptor (AR) expression in LNCaP prostate cancer cells. Our evaluations further show that there is a significant reduction of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels following piperine treatment in LNCaP cells. NF-kB and STAT-3 transcription factors have previously been shown to play a role in angiogenesis and invasion of prostate cancer cells. Interestingly, treatment of LNCaP, PC-3 and DU-145 prostate cancer cells with piperine resulted in reduced expression of phosphorylated STAT-3 and Nuclear factor-κB (NF-kB) transcription factors. These results correlated with the results of Boyden chamber assay, wherein piperine treatment reduced the cell migration of LNCaP and PC-3 cells. Finally, we show that piperine treatment significantly reduced the androgen dependent and androgen independent tumor growth in nude mice model xenotransplanted with prostate cancer cells. Taken together, these results support further investigation of piperine as a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of prostate cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / pharmacology*
  • Androgens / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Benzodioxoles / pharmacology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Piperidines / pharmacology*
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / pharmacology*
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Alkaloids
  • Androgens
  • Benzodioxoles
  • Piperidines
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen
  • piperine

Grant support

The authors have no support or funding to report.