The natural compound atraric acid is an antagonist of the human androgen receptor inhibiting cellular invasiveness and prostate cancer cell growth.
J Cell Mol Med. 2008 Jul 4. PMID: 18627423
Extracts from Pygeum africanum are used in the treatment of prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer (PCa), major health problems of men in Western countries. The ligand-activated human androgen receptor (AR) supports the growth of the prostate gland. Inhibition of human AR by androgen ablation therapy and by applying synthetic antiandrogens is therefore the primary goal in treatment of patients. Here, we show that atraric acid (AA) isolated from bark material of Pygeum africanum has antiandrogenic activity, inhibiting the transactivation mediated by the ligand-activated human AR. This androgen antagonistic activity is receptor specific and does not inhibit the closely related glucocorticoid or progesterone receptors. Mechanistically, AA inhibits nuclear transport of AR. Importantly, AA is able to efficiently repress the growth of both the androgen-dependent LNCaP and also the androgen-independent C4-2 prostate cancer cells but not that of PC3 or CV1 cells lacking AR. In line with this, AA inhibits the expression of the endogenous prostate specific antigen (PSA) gene in both LNCaP und C4-2 cells. Analyses of cell invasion revealed that AA inhibits the invasiveness of LNCaP cells through extracellular matrix. Thus, this study provides a molecular insight for AA as a natural anti-androgenic compound and may serve as a basis for AA derivatives as a new chemical lead structure for novel therapeutic compounds as AR antagonists, that can be used for prophylaxis or treatment of prostatic diseases.