Caffeic acid phenethyl ester suppresses androgen receptor signaling and stability via inhibition of phosphorylation on Ser81 and Ser213

Cell Commun Signal. 2019 Aug 20;17(1):100. doi: 10.1186/s12964-019-0404-9.


Background: Androgen receptor (AR) plays important role in the development, progression, and metastasis of prostate cancer (PCa). Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE) is the main component of honey bee propolis. We determined if CAPE affects the signaling and stability of AR in PCa cells.

Methods: Effects of CAPE on AR transcriptional activity and localization were determined by reporter gene assay and immunofluorescent microscopy. Western blotting, fluorescent polarization, computer simulation, and animal experiment were performed to investigate the molecular mechanism how CAPE reduces the stability of AR.

Results: CAPE treatment dose-dependently suppressed the transcriptional activity of AR as well as the protein levels of AR and its target gene PSA. Cyclohexamide treatment revealed that androgen stabilized AR protein, but AR stability was diminished by CAPE. Fluorescence microscopy demonstrated that androgen promoted the nucleus translocation of AR in PCa cells, while treatment with CAPE reduced protein level of AR in both nucleus and cytoplasm. CAPE treatment suppressed the phosphorylation of Ser81 and Ser213 on AR, which regulates the stability of AR. CDK1 and AKT are the kinases phosphorylating Ser81 and Ser213 on AR, respectively. CAPE treatment significantly reduced the protein level and activity of CDK1 and AKT in PCa cells. Overexpression of CDK1 or AKT rescued the AR protein level under CAPE treatment.

Conclusions: Our results suggested that CAPE treatment reduced AR stability and AR transcriptional activity in PCa cells, implying the possibility of using CAPE as a treatment for advanced PCa.

Keywords: AKT; AR; CDK1; Caffeic acid phenethyl ester; Prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caffeic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Humans
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol / pharmacology
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Serine / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Serine / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • AR protein, human
  • Caffeic Acids
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Serine
  • caffeic acid phenethyl ester
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol