Prostate cancer is one of the most common non-skin cancers in men. Amygdalin is one of the nitrilosides, natural cyanide-containing substances abundant in the seeds of plants of the prunasin family that have been used to treat cancers and relieve pain. In particular, D-amygdalin (D-mandelonitrile-β-D-gentiobioside) is known to exhibit selective killing effect on cancer cells. Apoptosis, programmed cell death, is an important mechanism in cancer treatment. In the present study, we prepared the aqueous extract of the amygdalin from Armeniacae semen and investigated whether this extract induces apoptotic cell death in human DU145 and LNCaP prostate cancer cells. In the present results, DU145 and LNCaP cells treated with amygdalin exhibited several morphological characteristics of apoptosis. Treatment with amygdalin increased expression of Bax, a pro-apoptotic protein, decreased expression of Bcl-2, an anti-apoptotic protein, and increased caspase-3 enzyme activity in DU145 and LNCaP prostate cancer cells. Here, we have shown that amygdalin induces apoptotic cell death in human DU145 and LNCaP prostate cancer cells by caspase-3 activation through down-regulation of Bcl-2 and up-regulation of Bax. The present study reveals that amygdalin may offer a valuable option for the treatment of prostate cancers.
2006 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan