AICAR Induces Apoptosis and Inhibits Migration and Invasion in Prostate Cancer Cells Through an AMPK/mTOR-Dependent Pathway

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Apr 3;20(7):1647. doi: 10.3390/ijms20071647.


Current clinical challenges of prostate cancer management are to restrict tumor growth and prohibit metastasis. AICAR (5-aminoimidazole-4-carbox-amide-1-β-d-ribofuranoside), an AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) agonist, has demonstrated antitumor activities for several types of cancers. However, the activity of AICAR on the cell growth and metastasis of prostate cancer has not been extensively studied. Herein we examine the effects of AICAR on the cell growth and metastasis of prostate cancer cells. Cell growth was performed by MTT assay and soft agar assay; cell apoptosis was examined by Annexin V/propidium iodide (PI) staining and poly ADP ribose polymerase (PARP) cleavage western blot, while cell migration and invasion were evaluated by wound-healing assay and transwell assay respectively. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related protein expression and AMPK/mTOR-dependent signaling axis were analyzed by western blot. In addition, we also tested the effect of AICAR on the chemosensitivity to docetaxel using MTT assay. Our results indicated that AICAR inhibits cell growth in prostate cancer cells, but not in non-cancerous prostate cells. In addition, our results demonstrated that AICAR induces apoptosis, attenuates transforming growth factor (TGF)-β-induced cell migration, invasion and EMT-related protein expression, and enhances the chemosensitivity to docetaxel in prostate cancer cells through regulating the AMPK/mTOR-dependent pathway. These findings support AICAR as a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Keywords: AICAR; AMPK; chemosensitivity; metastasis; prostate cancer.

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Aminoimidazole Carboxamide / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aminoimidazole Carboxamide / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Docetaxel / pharmacology
  • Drug Synergism
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Ribonucleotides / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction* / drug effects
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology


  • Ribonucleotides
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Docetaxel
  • Aminoimidazole Carboxamide
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases
  • AICA ribonucleotide