Targeting the SPOCK1-snail/slug axis-mediated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition by apigenin contributes to repression of prostate cancer metastasis

Ming Hsien Chien, Yung Wei Lin, Yu Ching Wen, Yi Chieh Yang, Michael Hsiao, Junn Liang Chang, Hsiang Ching Huang, Wei Jiunn Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Prostate cancer (PCa) is considered one of the most prevalent malignancy globally, and metastasis is a major cause of death. Apigenin (API) is a dietary flavonoid which exerts an antimetastatic effect in various cancer types. Sparc/osteonectin, cwcv, and kazal-like domains proteoglycan 1 (SPOCK1) is a crucial modulator of tumor growth and metastasis in cancers. However, the role and underlying regulatory mechanisms of SPOCK1 in the API-mediated antimetastatic effects of PCa remain unclear. Methods: MTS, colony formation, wound-healing, and transwell assays were conducted to evaluate the effects of API on PCa cell proliferative, migratory, and invasive potentials. In vivo orthotopic bioluminescent xenograft model were employed to determine antitumor activity of API. PCa cells were transfected with either Snail-, Slug-, SPOCK1-overexpressing vector, or small hairpin (sh)SPOCK1 to determine the invasive abilities and expression levels of SPOCK1 and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) biomarkers in response to API treatment. Immunohistochemical (IHC) assays were carried out to evaluate the expression level of SPOCK1 in PCa xenografts and a PCa tissue array. Associations of SPOCK1 expression with clinicopathological features and prognoses of patients with PCa were analyzed by GEO or TCGA RNA-sequencing data. Results: API significantly suppressed in vitro PCa cell proliferation, migration, and invasion and inhibited in vivo PCa tumor growth and metastasis. Moreover, survival times of animals were also prolonged after API treatment. Mechanistic studies revealed that API treatment resulted in downregulation of SPOCK1, which was accompanied by reduced expressions of mesenchymal markers and subsequent attenuation of invasive abilities of PCa cells. Overexpression of SPOCK1 in PCa xenografts resulted in significant promotion of tumor progression and relieved the anticancer activities induced by API, whereas knockdown of SPOCK1 had opposite effects. In clinical, SPOCK1 levels were higher in tumor tissues compared to non-tumor tissues, which was also significantly correlated with shorter disease-free survival in PCa patients. Conclusions: Levels of SPOCK1 increase with the progression of human PCa which suggests that SPOCK1 may act as a prognostic marker or therapeutic target for patients with PCa. Suppression of SPOCK1-mediated EMT signaling contributes to the antiproliferative and antimetastatic activities of API in vitro and in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Article number246
Pages (from-to)246
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 10 2019


  • Apigenin
  • Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition
  • Metastasis
  • Prostate cancer
  • Slug
  • Snail
  • SPOCK1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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