Par-4-dependent apoptosis by the dietary compound withaferin A in prostate cancer cells

Sowmyalakshmi Srinivasan, Rama S. Ranga, Ravshan Burikhanov, Seong Su Han, Damodaran Chendil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Scopus citations


Deletion or mutation of the androgen receptor (AR) renders prostate tumors refractory to apoptosis by androgen ablation, the mainstay of prostate cancer therapy. To identify novel therapeutics that can induce apoptosis regardless of the AR status of prostate cancer cells, we screened dietary herbal compounds using a reporter assay for the prostate apoptosis response-4 (Par-4) gene, which induces p53- and PTEN-independent and cancer-selective apoptosis. One of the compounds, withaferin A (WA), a major constituent of the dietary compound Withania somnifera, induced Par-4-dependent apoptosis in androgen-refractory prostate cancer cells and regression of PC-3 xenografts in nude mice. Interestingly, restoration of wild-type AR in PC-3 (AR negative) cells abrogated both Par-4 induction and apoptosis by WA. Individually, WA and anti-androgens induced neither Par-4 nor apoptosis in androgen-responsive prostate cancer cells, yet in combination, WA and anti-androgen synergistically induced Par-4 and apoptosis in androgen-responsive prostate cancer cells. Thus, when judiciously combined with anti-androgens, WA inhibits survival of both androgen-responsive and androgen-refractory prostate cancer cells by a Par-4-dependent mechanism. As Par-4 up-regulation induces apoptosis in most tumor cells, our findings can be extended to high-throughput screens to identify synergistic combinations for both therapy-sensitive and therapy-resistant cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-253
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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