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Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) are peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) ligands that have been reported to reduce proliferation of human prostate cancer cells. However, the mechanisms by which TZDs inhibit prostate cancer cell proliferation are not fully understood. In addition, it is not known if the anti-proliferative effects of TZDs require activation of PPARgamma or are mediated by PPARgamma-independent pathways. The goals of this study were to assess whether TZDs regulate expression of proteins that control the transition from G1 to S phase of the cell cycle and define the role of PPARgamma in these TZD-induced responses in androgen-independent human prostate cancer cell lines. Western blot analysis revealed that growth inhibitory concentrations of the TZDs rosiglitazone and ciglitazone induced expression of the cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor p21 and decreased cyclin D1 levels in the androgen independent PC-3 cell line. Phosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein at Serine 780 was also reduced in PC-3 cells exposed to ciglitazone. Furthermore, growth inhibitory concentrations of ciglitazone increased p21 and lowered cyclin D1 expression within C4-2 cells. PPARgamma-directed siRNAs inhibited the ability of rosiglitazone to regulate expression of cyclin D1 and p21. However, knockdown of PPARgamma did not significantly reduce ciglitazone-induced alterations in cyclin D1 and p21. Furthermore PPARgamma siRNA did not prevent inhibition of PC-3 cell proliferation by either TZD. Thus, activation of PPARgamma is involved in rosiglitazone-induced alterations in cell cycle protein expression. However, the alterations in protein expression and proliferation induced by ciglitazone occur primarily via PPARgamma-independent signaling pathways.