The potent AMPK inhibitor BAY-3827 shows strong efficacy in androgen-dependent prostate cancer models

Cell Oncol (Dordr). 2021 Jun;44(3):581-594. doi: 10.1007/s13402-020-00584-8. Epub 2021 Jan 25.


Purpose: 5' adenosine monophosphate-activated kinase (AMPK) is an essential regulator of cellular energy homeostasis and has been associated with different pathologies, including cancer. Precisely defining the biological role of AMPK necessitates the availability of a potent and selective inhibitor.

Methods: High-throughput screening and chemical optimization were performed to identify a novel AMPK inhibitor. Cell proliferation and mechanistic assays, as well as gene expression analysis and chromatin immunoprecipitation were used to investigate the cellular impact as well as the crosstalk between lipid metabolism and androgen signaling in prostate cancer models. Also, fatty acid turnover was determined by examining lipid droplet formation.

Results: We identified BAY-3827 as a novel and potent AMPK inhibitor with additional activity against ribosomal 6 kinase (RSK) family members. It displays strong anti-proliferative effects in androgen-dependent prostate cancer cell lines. Analysis of genes involved in AMPK signaling revealed that the expression of those encoding 3-hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR), fatty acid synthase (FASN) and 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase/fructose-2,6-biphosphatase 2 (PFKFB2), all of which are involved in lipid metabolism, was strongly upregulated by androgen in responsive models. Chromatin immunoprecipitation DNA-sequencing (ChIP-seq) analysis identified several androgen receptor (AR) binding peaks in the HMGCR and PFKFB2 genes. BAY-3827 strongly down-regulated the expression of lipase E (LIPE), cAMP-dependent protein kinase type II-beta regulatory subunit (PRKAR2B) and serine-threonine kinase AKT3 in responsive prostate cancer cell lines. Also, the expression of members of the carnitine palmitoyl-transferase 1 (CPT1) family was inhibited by BAY-3827, and this was paralleled by impaired lipid flux.

Conclusions: The availability of the potent inhibitor BAY-3827 will contribute to a better understanding of the role of AMPK signaling in cancer, especially in prostate cancer.

Keywords: AMPK; Androgen signaling; Lipid metabolism; Prostate cancer.

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prostatic Neoplasms*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinases