High-throughput cell-based compound screen identifies pinosylvin methyl ether and tanshinone IIA as inhibitors of castration-resistant prostate cancer

Kirsi Ketola (Corresponding Author), Miro Viitala, Pekka Kohonen, Vidal Fey, Zoran Culig, Olli Kallioniemi, Kristiina Iljin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Current treatment options for castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) are limited. In this study, a high-throughput screen of 4910 drugs and drug-like molecules was performed to identify antiproliferative compounds in androgen ablated prostate cancer cells. The effect of compounds on cell viability was compared in androgen ablated LNCaP prostate cancer cells and in LNCaP cells grown in presence of androgens as well as in two non-malignant prostate epithelial cells (RWPE-1 and EP156T). Validation experiments of cancer specific anti-proliferative compounds indicated pinosylvin methyl ether (PSME) and tanshinone IIA as potent inhibitors of androgen ablated LNCaP cell proliferation. PSME is a stilbene compound with no previously described anti-neoplastic activity whereas tanshinone IIA is currently used in cardiovascular disorders and proposed as a cancer drug. To gain insights into growth inhibitory mechanisms in CRPC, genome-wide gene expression analysis was performed in PSME- and tanshinone IIA-exposed cells. Both compounds altered the expression of genes involved in cell cycle and steroid and cholesterol biosynthesis in androgen ablated LNCaP cells. Decrease in androgen signalling was confirmed by reduced expression of androgen receptor and prostate specific antigen in PSME- or tanshinone IIA-exposed cells. Taken together, this systematic screen identified a novel anti-proliferative agent, PSME, for CRPC. Moreover, our screen confirmed tanshinone IIA as well as several other compounds as potential prostate cancer growth inhibitors also in androgen ablated prostate cancer cells. These results provide valuable starting points for preclinical and clinical studies for CRPC treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-22
JournalJournal of Molecular Biochemistry
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed



  • cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • castration resistant
  • high-throughput screen
  • pinosylvin methyl ether
  • tanshinone IIA

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