Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Rakesh Kukreja


Our recent studies have shown that that erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs including Sildenafil (Viagra), Vardenafil (Levitra) and Tadalafil (Cialis) enhance killing of several types of cancer cells by anticancer drug, Doxorubicin (DOX). We observed increased cell death by apoptosis in response to the combined treatment with ED drugs and DOX. However, the mechanism of such enhancement of cell death by combined treatment of ED drugs and DOX is not fully understood. Nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) is an oxidant-sensitive transcription factor that plays a critical role in the immediate-early activation of a multitude of genes that have been documented to play critical role in programmed cell death (apoptosis). NF-κB activation has been shown to block apoptosis and its inhibition improves existing anti-oncogenic therapy such as chemotherapy. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis whether combined treatment of prostate cancer cells, PC3, with Sildenafil plus DOX would attenuate the activation of NFκB by inhibiting translocation of the p65 and p50 subunits to the nucleus and by phosphorylation of cytosolic IκB In addition, we investigated the effect of DOX and DOX plus Sildenafil on the expression of BCL family of proteins which play critical role in apoptosis. We treated PC3 cells with 1.5 μM DOX with or without 10 µM Sildenafil for 6 hours and 72 hours. The nuclear translocation of p65 and p50 and expression of BCL family of proteins was determined by western blot analysis. Our results show that combined treatment of DOX and Sildenafil significantly reduced the nuclear translocation of p65 and p50 as compared with DOX alone (P < 0.05). This correlated with the significant reduction in the expression of Bcl-2, BclxL and phosphorylation of BAD. These data provide an important mechanism by which Sildenafil treatment augments the apoptotic potential of DOX in PC3 cancer cells.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2008

Included in

Physiology Commons