Monascuspiloin induces apoptosis and autophagic cell death in human prostate cancer cells via the Akt and AMPK signaling pathways.
ABSTRACT Monascus pigments have been reported to possess anticancer effects in various cancer cells; however, the molecular mechanisms of their anticancer properties remain largely unknown. Monascuspiloin is an analogue of the Monascus pigment monascin, and its anticancer growth activity against human prostate cancer cells was evaluated using in vitro and in vivo models. Monascuspiloin effectively inhibits the growth of both androgen-dependent LNCaP and androgen-independent PC-3 human prostate cancer cells. Monascuspiloin preferentially induces apoptosis in LNCaP cells by attenuating the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway. In androgen-independent PC-3 cells, monascuspiloin induces G2/M arrest and autophagic cell death by an AMPK-dependent pathway. Induction of autophagy in PC-3 cells further sensitizes cells to apoptosis induced by monascuspiloin. Monascuspiloin inhibits tumor growth in nude mice bearing PC-3 xenografts through induction of apoptosis and autophagy. This study is the first to demonstrate that monascuspiloin has therapeutic potential for the treatment of both androgen-dependent and -independent human prostate cancers.