Carvacrol Induced Program Cell Death and Cell Cycle Arrest in Androgen-Independent Human Prostate Cancer Cells via Inhibition of Notch Signaling

Anticancer Agents Med Chem. 2019;19(13):1588-1608. doi: 10.2174/1871520619666190731152942.


Background: Several studies have revealed that abnormal activation of Notch signaling is closely related with the development and progression of prostate cancer. Although there are numerous therapeutic strategies, a more effective modality with least side effects is urgently required for the treatment of prostate cancer. Carvacrol is a monoterpenoid phenol and majorly present in the essential oils of Lamiaceae family plants. Many previous reports have shown various biological activities of carvacrol like antioxidant, antiinflammatory and anticancer properties. Recently, we have shown potent anticancer property of carvacrol against prostate cancer cell line DU145. In the current study, we report the chemopreventive and therapeutic potential of carvacrol against another prostate cancer cell line PC-3 with its detailed mechanism of action.

Methods: To determine the effect of the carvacrol on prostate cancer cells, the cell viability was estimated by MTT assay and cell death was estimated by LDH release assay. The apoptotic assay was performed by DAPI staining and FITC-Annexin V assay. Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) was estimated by DCFDA method. Cell cycle analysis was performed by flow cytometry. Gene expression analysis was performed by quantitative real time PCR.

Results: Our results suggested that the carvacrol treatment significantly reduced the cell viability of PC-3 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The antiproliferative action of carvacrol was correlated with apoptosis which was confirmed by nuclear condensation, FITC-Annexin V assay, modulation in expression of Bax, Bcl-2 and caspase activation. The mechanistic insight into carvacrol-induced apoptosis leads to finding of elevated level of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and mitochondrial membrane potential disruption. Cell cycle analysis revealed that carvacrol prevented cell cycle in G0/G1 that was associated with decline in expression of cyclin D1 and Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 4 (CDK4) and augmented expression of CDK inhibitor p21. Having been said the role of hyperactivation of Notch signaling in prostate cancer, we also deciphered that carvacrol could inhibit Notch signaling in PC-3 cells via downregulation of Notch-1, and Jagged-1.

Conclusion: Thus, our previous and current findings have established the strong potential of carvacrol as a chemopreventive agent against androgen-independent human prostate cancer cells.

Keywords: Jagged-1; PC-3; Prostate cancer; apoptosis; cell cycle; notch..

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cymenes / pharmacology*
  • Cymenes / therapeutic use
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Humans
  • Jagged-1 Protein / metabolism
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant / metabolism
  • Prostatic Neoplasms, Castration-Resistant / pathology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Receptor, Notch1 / metabolism*


  • Cymenes
  • Jagged-1 Protein
  • NOTCH1 protein, human
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Receptor, Notch1
  • carvacrol