Role of Capsaicin in Prostate Cancer

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Abstract

In the recent years, natural products have emerged as modulators of many cellular responses with potential applications as therapeutic drugs in many disorders. Among them, capsaicin, the pungent principle of chili peppers, has received an increasing attention for its strong chemo-preventive and chemotherapeutic ability in recent few years. In this chapter some of the molecular and cellular events initiated by treatment of prostate cancer cells with capsaicin are addressed and the potential role of capsaicin signaling network as target for prostate cancer treatment is discussed. Capsaicin induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in the androgen-insensitive prostate cancer PC-3 and DU-145 cell lines. Among the pathways underlying the mechanisms of action of capsaicin, ROS generation and ceramide accumulation seem to be the most relevant. In prostate PC-3 cells, capsaicin also induces endoplasmic reticulum stress and caspase-3 activation. Moreover, capsaicin exhibits anti-tumor growth activity in prostate tumors induced in mice. The data suggest that capsaicin holds promise as a treatment option for prostate cancer.