Dietary consumption of phytoestrogens like genistein has been linked with lower incidence of prostate cancer. The estradiol-like benzopyran core of genistein confers estrogen receptor-β (ER-β) selectivity that imparts weak anti-proliferative activity against prostate cancer cells. DL-2-[4-(2-piperidinoethoxy)phenyl]-3-phenyl-2H-1-benzopyran (BP), a SERM designed with benzopyran core, targeted androgen independent prostate cancer (PC-3) cells 14-times more potently than genistein, ~. 25% more efficiently than tamoxifen and 6.5-times more actively than ICI-182780, without forfeiting significant specificity in comparison to genistein. BP increased apoptosis (annexin-V and TUNEL labeling), arrested cell cycle, and significantly increased caspase-3 activity along with mRNA expressions of estrogen receptor (ER)-β and FasL (qPCR) in PC-3 cells. In classical ERE-luc reporter assay BP behaved as a potent ER-α antagonist and ER-β agonist. Accordingly, it decreased expression of ER-α target PS2 (P. <. 0.01) and increased expression of ER-β target TNF-α (P. <. 0.05) genes in PC-3. ER-β deficient PC-3 (siRNA-transfected) was resistant to apoptotic and anti-proliferative actions of SERMs, including stimulation of FasL expression by BP. BP significantly inhibited phosphorylation of Akt and ERK-1/2, JNK and p38 in PC-3 (immunoblotting), and thus adopted a multi-pathway mechanism to exert a more potent anti-proliferative activity against prostate cancer cells than natural and synthetic SERMs. Its precise ER-subtype specific activity presents a unique lead structure for further optimization.
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