A common alternative therapy for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the extract from the fruit of saw palmetto (SPE). BPH is caused by nonmalignant growth of epithelial and stromal elements of the prostate. IGF action is important for prostate growth and development, and changes in the IGF system have been documented in BPH tissues. The main signaling pathways activated by the binding of IGF-I to the IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) are the ERK arm of the MAPK cascade and the phosphoinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/protein kinase B (PKB/Akt) cascade. We tested the hypothesis that SPE suppresses growth and induces apoptosis in the P69 prostate epithelial cell line by inhibiting IGF-I signaling. Treatment with 150 μg/ml SPE for 24 h decreased IGF-I-induced proliferation of P69 cells and induced cleavage of the enzyme poly(ADP-ribose)polymerase (PARP), an index of apoptosis. Treatment of serum-starved P69 cells with 150 μg/ml SPE for 6 h reduced IGF-I-induced phosphorylation of Akt (assessed by Western blot) and Akt activity (assessed by an Akt kinase assay). Western blot analysis showed that SPE reduced IGF-I-induced phosphorylation of the adapter protein insulin receptor substrate-1 and decreased downstream effects of Akt activation, including increased cyclin D1 levels and phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase-3 and p70s6k. There was no effect on IGF-I-induced phosphorylation of MAPK, IGF-IR, or Shc. Treatment of starved cells with SPE alone induced phosphorylation the proapoptotic protein JNK. SPE treatment may relieve symptoms of BPH, in part, by inhibiting specific components of the IGF-I signaling pathway and inducing JNK activation, thus mediating antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects on prostate epithelia.
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