Carnosic acid promotes degradation of the androgen receptor and is regulated by the unfolded protein response pathway in vitro and in vivo

Sakina M. Petiwala, Gongbo Li, Maarten C. Bosland, Daniel D. Lantvit, Pavel A. Petukhov, Jeremy J. Johnson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Androgen deprivation therapy in prostate cancer is extremely effective; however, due to the continuous expression and/ or mutagenesis of androgen receptor (AR), the resistance to antihormonal therapy is a natural progression. Consequently, targeting the AR for degradation offers an alternate approach to overcome this resistance in prostate cancer. In this study, we demonstrate that carnosic acid, a benzenediol diterpene, binds the ligand-binding domain of the AR and degrades the AR via endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-mediated proteasomal degradative pathway. In vitro, carnosic acid treatment induced degradation of AR and decreased expression of prostate-specific antigen in human prostate cancer cell lines LNCaP and 22Rv1. Carnosic acid also promoted the expression of ER proteins including BiP and CHOP in a dose-dependent manner. Downregulation of CHOP by small interfering RNA somewhat restored expression of AR suggesting that AR degradation is dependent on ER stress pathway. Future studies will need to evaluate other aspects of the unfolded protein response pathway to characterize the regulation of AR degradation. Furthermore, cotreating cells individually with carnosic acid and proteasome inhibitor (MG-132) and carnosic acid and an ER stress modulator (salubrinal) restored protein levels of AR, suggesting that AR degradation is mediated by ER stress-dependent proteasomal degradation pathway. Degradation of AR and induction of CHOP protein were also evident in vivo along with a 53% reduction in growth of xenograft prostate cancer tumors. In addition, carnosic acid-induced ER stress in prostate cancer cells but not in normal prostate epithelial cells procured from patient biopsies. In conclusion, these data suggest that molecules such as carnosic acid could be further evaluated and optimized as a potential therapeutic alternative to target AR in prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)827-838
Number of pages12
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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