STAT3 inhibition with galiellalactone effectively targets the prostate cancer stem-like cell population

Giacomo Canesin, Valentina Maggio, Macarena Palominos, Anna Stiehm, Hector R Contreras, Enrique A Castellón, Juan Morote, Rosanna Paciucci, Norman J Maitland, Anders Bjartell, Rebecka Hellsten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a small subpopulation of quiescent cells with the potential to differentiate into tumor cells. CSCs are involved in tumor initiation and progression and contribute to treatment failure through their intrinsic resistance to chemo- or radiotherapy, thus representing a substantial concern for cancer treatment. Prostate CSCs' activity has been shown to be regulated by the transcription factor Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3). Here we investigated the effect of galiellalactone (GL), a direct STAT3 inhibitor, on CSCs derived from prostate cancer patients, on docetaxel-resistant spheres with stem cell characteristics, on CSCs obtained from the DU145 cell line in vitro and on DU145 tumors in vivo. We found that GL significantly reduced the viability of docetaxel-resistant and patient-derived spheres. Moreover, CSCs isolated from DU145 cells were sensitive to low concentrations of GL, and the treatment with GL suppressed their viability and their ability to form colonies and spheres. STAT3 inhibition down regulated transcriptional targets of STAT3 in these cells, indicating STAT3 activity in CSCs. Our results indicate that GL can target the prostate stem cell niche in patient-derived cells, in docetaxel-resistant spheres and in an in vitro model. We conclude that GL represents a promising therapeutic approach for prostate cancer patients, as it reduces the viability of prostate cancer-therapy-resistant cells in both CSCs and non-CSC populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13958
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2020


  • Animals
  • Apoptosis/drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation/drug effects
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic/metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lactones/metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells/drug effects
  • Prostate/pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms/drug therapy
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor/antagonists & inhibitors
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays

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