Cardiac glycosides stimulate Ca2+ increases and apoptosis in androgen-independent, metastatic human prostate adenocarcinoma cells
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 Ca(2+) 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
... 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 Ca(2+) fluxes demonstrated that the proapoptotic effects of the cardiac glycosides were linked to their abilities to induce sustained Ca(2+) increases in the cells. Our results define a novel activity for cardiac glycosides that could prove relevant to the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.