Cell Cycle Arrest by the Isoprenoids Perillyl Alcohol, Geraniol, and Farnesol Is Mediated by p21Cip1 and p27Kip1 in Human Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Cells

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

First Page


Last Page





Pancreatic cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer-associated mortality in the United States, usually presents in an advanced stage and is generally refractory to chemotherapy. As such, there is a great need for novel therapies for this disease. The naturally derived isoprenoids perillyl alcohol, farnesol, and geraniol have chemotherapeutic potential in pancreatic and other tumor types. However, their mechanisms of action in these systems are not completely defined. In this study, we investigated isoprenoid effects on the cell cycle and observed a similar antiproliferative mechanism of action among the three compounds. First, when given in combination, the isoprenoids exhibited an additive antiproliferative effect against MIA PaCa-2 human pancreatic cancer cells. Furthermore, all three compounds induced a G0/G1 cell cycle arrest that coincided with an increase in the expression of the cyclin kinase inhibitor proteins p21Cip1 and p27Kip1 and a reduction in cyclin A, cyclin B1, and cyclin-dependent kinase (Cdk) 2 protein levels. Immunoprecipitation studies demonstrated increased association of both p21Cip1 and p27Kip1 with Cdk2 as well as diminished Cdk2 kinase activity after isoprenoid exposure, indicating a cell cycle-inhibitory role for p21Cip1 and p27Kip1 in pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells. When siRNA was used to inhibit expression of p21Cip1 and p27Kip1 proteins in MIA PaCa-2 cells, conditional resistance to all three isoprenoid compounds was evident. Given similar findings in this cell line and in BxPC-3 human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells, we conclude that the chemotherapeutic isoprenoid compounds perillyl alcohol, farnesol, and geraniol invoke a p21Cip1- and p27Kip1-dependent antiproliferative mechanism in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cells.


Link leads to full text provided by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.