BACKGROUND. Nuclear Factor kappa B (NFκB) is a eukaryotic transcription factor that is constitutively active in human cancers and can be inhibited by the naturally occurring sesquiterpene lactone, parthenolide (P). METHODS. The in vitro effects of P were assessed using the androgen independent cell line, CWR22Rv1, and human umbilical endothelial cells (HUVECs). The in vivo activity of P as a single agent and its ability to augment the efficacy of docetaxel and the anti-androgen, bicalutamide, were determined using the CWR22Rv1 xenograft model. RESULTS. Parthenolide at low micromolar concentration inhibited proliferation of CWR22Rv1 and HUVEC cells, promoted apoptosis and abrogated NFκB-DNA binding. Parthenolide downregulated anti-apoptotic genes under NFκB control, TRAF 1 and 2, and promoted sustained activation of c-jun-NH2 kinase (JNK). Parthenolide also augmented the in vivo efficacy of docetaxel and restored sensitivity to anti-androgen therapy. CONCLUSION. These studies demonstrate parthenolide's anti-tumor and anti-angiogenic activity, and its potential to augment the efficacy of chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.
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