Suppressed epithelial-mesenchymal transition and cancer stem cell properties mediate the anti-cancer effects of ethyl pyruvate via regulation of the AKT/nuclear factor-κB pathway in prostate cancer cells

Oncol Lett. 2018 Aug;16(2):2271-2278. doi: 10.3892/ol.2018.8958. Epub 2018 Jun 12.


Castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) is a leading cause of mortality among cases of prostate cancer (PCa). Current treatment options for CRPC are limited. Ethyl pyruvate (EP), a lipophilic derivative of pyruvic acid, has been reported to have antitumor activities. In the present study, the efficacy of EP against PCa was investigated using two human PCa cell lines and a mouse xenograft tumor model. PC3 and CWR22RV1 cells were treated with EP, and cytotoxicity was evaluated via Cell Counting Kit-8 and colony formation assays, while cell cycle distribution was assessed by flow cytometry. Changes in cell migration and invasion caused by EP treatment were also evaluated with Transwell and wound healing assays, and changes in the expression of intracellular signaling pathway components were detected by western blotting. EP treatment reduced cell viability, induced G1 arrest, and activated the intrinsic apoptosis pathway. Additionally, the in vivo experiments revealed that EP administration markedly inhibited tumor growth. EP also reversed epithelial-mesenchymal transition and suppressed cancer stem cell properties in part through negative regulation of AKT/nuclear factor-κB signaling. These results indicate that EP has anticancer activity in vitro and in vivo, and is therefore a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of PCa.

Keywords: AKT/nuclear factor-κB; cancer stem cells; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; ethyl pyruvate; prostate cancer.