Peperomin E is a natural secolignan existing distributed in the plants of the genus Peperomia. Previous investigations demonstrated that peperomin E showed potential antitumor activity in some cancer lines, but it is unclear whether peperomin E has an effect on prostate cancer cell lines. The aim of the present study is to investigate its effects on proliferation inhibition, apoptosis-inducing and cell-cycle arrest activity using a prostate cancer PC-3 cell line. The proliferation inhibition was evaluated by MTT assay, apoptosis was detected by Annexin V/propidium iodide (PI) staining and Hoechst 33258 staining, cell cycle distributions were measured by flow cytometry, and western blot analysis was used to determine specific cellular apoptotic protein expressions of Bcl-2, Bax, caspase-3 and cleaved-caspase-3. According to the results of this study, peperomin E exhibited significant anti-proliferation activity on PC-3 cell lines in vitro in a dose-dependent manner. Peperomin E treatments lead to marked morphological changes. Apoptotic cell count and cell-cycle distribution at G2/M phase significantly increased with increasing concentrations of peperomin E. The down-regulated expression level of Bcl-2 and up-regulated expression level of Bax and cleaved-caspase-3 compared with the controls were also observed after peperomin E treatment. These data suggest that peperomin E exhibited proliferation inhabitation, apoptosis-inducing and cell-cycle arrest activity on PC-3 cell lines. The anti-proliferation effect of peperomin E on PC-3 cells should result partly from its cell-cycle arrest and apoptosis-inducing activity, whereas the increasing of the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and activation of caspases-3 play an important role in the development of apoptosis.
Keywords: apoptosis; cell cycle; cytotoxicity; peperomin E; secolignan.