Cinobufagin inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis of hepatocarcinoma cells by activating apoptosis, AKT, and ERK pathways
Cinobufagin is one of the pharmaceutically active ingredients in the parotoid glands of the Chinese toad Bufo bufo gargarizans Cantor. This study was conducted to investigate the effect of cinobufagin on viability, migration, and apoptosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells and its mechanisms. Human HCC cells (HepG2) were treated with cinobufagin and assessed for viability, apoptosis, and migration using CCK-8 assay, flow cytometry, and wound healing assay. The expression of genes related to the p53, AKT, and ERK pathways was detected using RT-PCR and Western blot analysis. Cell viability assays showed that cinobufagin reduced the viability of HepG2 cells in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. Significantly increased apoptosis was detected in cinobufagin-treated cells as compared with non-treated cells. The migration ability of HepG2 cells was significantly reduced after they were exposed to cinobufagin as compared with control. RT-PCR and Western blot analyses showed that the expression levels of p53, caspase-3, and Bax were significantly upregulated, and the expression levels of AKT and ERK were significantly downregulated after cinobufagin treatment. Our data demonstrated that cinobufagin reduces the viability and induces apoptosis of HepG2 cells. The cytotoxicity is likely achieved by upregulating the p53 pathway and downregulating the Akt and ERK pathways.
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