Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 7599–7613 | Cite as

Oleanolic acid inhibits cell survival and proliferation of prostate cancer cells in vitro and in vivo through the PI3K/Akt pathway

  • Xuechao Li
  • Yarong Song
  • Peng Zhang
  • Hongxue Zhu
  • Lifeng Chen
  • Yajun Xiao
  • Yifei Xing
Original Article


Oleanolic acid (OA) is a naturally occurring pentacyclic triterpenoid and possesses diverse pharmacological activities, including anti-cancer effects that have been confirmed in multiple types of human cancers. However, the potential effect of natural OA on human prostate cancer is still unclear. The present study aimed to explore whether and how OA exerted anti-cancer effects in prostate cancer. Our data showed that OA inhibited cell viability and proliferation, and promoted cell apoptosis and G0/G1 phase cell cycle arrest in prostate cancer PC-3, DU145, and LNCaP cells, in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, OA was found to regulate the expression levels of apoptosis-related and cell cycle-related proteins, as well as the activity of PI3K/Akt pathway, in a dose-dependent manner. Mechanistically, our data revealed that OA exerted anti-cancer effects in vitro in PC-3 and DU145 cells by repressing the PI3K/Akt pathway. In agreement, OA also suppressed the tumor growth of PC-3 cells in vivo via inhibition of the PI3K/Akt pathway. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate the anti-cancer properties of OA in prostate cancer cells, both in vitro and in vivo, and provide the experimental evidence for the use of OA as an adjuvant agent for prostate cancer patients.


Oleanolic acid Prostate cancer Cell survival Proliferation PI3K/Akt pathway 


Compliance with ethical standards


This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 81272847 and 30973008) and the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (NCET-13-0239).

Conflicts of interest


Statement of human right

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Ethical approval

This article contains studies with animals. All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This study was approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, People’s. Republic of China (IACUC Number: S430). All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution at which the studies were conducted.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xuechao Li
    • 1
  • Yarong Song
    • 1
  • Peng Zhang
    • 1
  • Hongxue Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lifeng Chen
    • 1
  • Yajun Xiao
    • 1
  • Yifei Xing
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Urology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical CollegeHuazhong University of Science and TechnologyWuhanChina
  2. 2.Department of UrologyHospital of Xinjiang Production and Construction CorpsUrumqiChina

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