Apigenin inhibits prostate cancer progression in TRAMP mice via targeting PI3K/Akt/FoxO pathway

Carcinogenesis. 2014 Feb;35(2):452-60. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgt316. Epub 2013 Sep 25.


Forkhead box O (FoxO) transcription factors play an important role as tumor suppressor in several human malignancies. Disruption of FoxO activity due to loss of phosphatase and tensin homolog and activation of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt are frequently observed in prostate cancer. Apigenin, a naturally occurring plant flavone, exhibits antiproliferative and anticarcinogenic activities through mechanisms, which are not fully defined. In the present study, we show that apigenin suppressed prostate tumorigenesis in transgenic adenocarcinoma of the mouse prostate (TRAMP) mice through the PI3K/Akt/FoxO-signaling pathway. Apigenin-treated TRAMP mice (20 and 50 μg/mouse/day, 6 days/week for 20 weeks) exhibited significant decrease in tumor volumes of the prostate as well as completely abolished distant organ metastasis. Apigenin treatment resulted in significant decrease in the weight of genitourinary apparatus (P < 0.0001), dorsolateral (P < 0.0001) and ventral prostate (P < 0.028), compared with the control group. Apigenin-treated mice showed reduced phosphorylation of Akt (Ser473) and FoxO3a (Ser253), which correlated with its increased nuclear retention and decreased binding of FoxO3a with 14-3-3. These events lead to reduced proliferation as assessed by Ki-67 and cyclin D1, along with upregulation of FoxO-responsive proteins BIM and p27/Kip1. Complementing in vivo results, similar observations were noted in human prostate cancer LNCaP and PC-3 cells after apigenin treatment. Furthermore, binding of FoxO3a with p27/Kip1 was markedly increased after 10 and 20 μM apigenin treatment resulting in G0/G1-phase cell cycle arrest, which was consistent with the effects elicited by PI3K/Akt inhibitor, LY294002. These results provide convincing evidence that apigenin effectively suppressed prostate cancer progression, at least in part, by targeting the PI3K/Akt/FoxO-signaling pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Apigenin / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Disease Progression
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Forkhead Box Protein O3
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Forkhead Box Protein O3
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • FoxO3 protein, mouse
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Apigenin
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinase
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt