Hypoxia is a typical character of locally advanced solid tumours. The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) is the main regulator under the hypoxic environment. HIF-1α regulates various genes to enhance tumour progression, angiogenesis, and metastasis. Sphingosine kinase 1 (SPHK-1) is a modulator of HIF-1α.
To investigate the molecular mechanisms of pristimerin in association with SPHK-1 pathways in hypoxic PC-3 cancer cells. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) production, cell cycles, and SPHK-1 activity were measured, and western blotting, an MTT assay, and an RNA interference assay were performed.
Pristimerin inhibited HIF-1α accumulation in a concentration- and-time-dependent manner in hypoxic PC-3 cells. Pristimerin suppressed the expression of HIF-1α by inhibiting SPHK-1. Moreover, inhibiting SPHK-1 with a sphingosine kinase inhibitor enhanced the suppression of HIF-1α, phosphorylation AKT, and glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) by pristimerin under hypoxia. Furthermore, a reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenger enhanced the inhibition of HIF-1α and SPHK-1 by pristimerin.
Taken together, these findings suggest that pristimerin can exert an anti-cancer activity by inhibiting HIF-1α through the SPHK-1 pathway.