Cardiac glycosides stimulate Ca2+increases and apoptosis in androgen-independent, metastatic human prostate adenocarcinoma cells

David J. McConkey, Yun Lin, Leta K. Nutt, Huseyin Z. Ozel, Robert A. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cardiac glycosides are used clinically to increase contractile force in patients with cardiac disorders. Their mechanism of action is well established and involves inhibition of the plasma membrane Na+/K+-ATPase, leading to alterations in intracellular K+and Ca2+levels. Here, we report that the cardiac glycosides oleandrin, ouabain, and digoxin induce apoptosis in androgen-independent human prostate cancer cell lines in vitro. Cell death was associated with early release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, followed by proteolytic processing of caspases 8 and 3. Oleandrin also promoted caspase activation, detected by cleavage poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and hydrolysis of a peptide substrate (DEVD-pNA). Comparison of the rates of apoptosis in poorly metastatic PC3 M-Pro4 and highly metastatic PC3 M-LN4 subclones demonstrated that cell death was delayed in the latter because of a delay in mitochondrial cytochrome c release. Single-cell imaging of intracellular Ca2+fluxes demonstrated that the proapoptotic effects of the cardiac glycosides were linked to their abilities to induce sustained Ca2+increases in the cells. Our results define a novel activity for cardiac glycosides that could prove relevant to the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3807-3812
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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