How Plant Compounds Affect Liver Cancer Cells Through a Key Cellular Pathway

Greg Howard
8th June, 2024

How Plant Compounds Affect Liver Cancer Cells Through a Key Cellular Pathway

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Tongji University found that compounds from traditional Chinese medicine can help fight liver cancer
  • These compounds, Schisandra chinensis lignans and acteoside, reduce cancer cell growth and spread by targeting a key biological process
  • The treatment increased cell death and reduced tumor size in mice, showing promise for new liver cancer therapies
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common and aggressive form of liver cancer that is often diagnosed at advanced stages, making it difficult to treat effectively with conventional chemotherapy. This study, conducted by researchers at Tongji University, explores the potential of Schisandra chinensis lignans and acteoside, compounds derived from traditional Chinese medicine, in combating HCC by targeting the Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) process through the ERK1/2 pathway[1]. EMT is a biological process where epithelial cells, which are normally stationary, transform into mesenchymal cells that have increased migratory capacity and invasiveness. This process is crucial for cancer metastasis, where cancer cells spread from the primary tumor to other parts of the body. Previous studies have highlighted the role of EMT in cancer progression and metastasis[2][3]. The study involved several experimental techniques to assess the effects of Schisandra chinensis lignans and acteoside on HCC cells. Cell proliferation was measured using cell counting kit-8 (CCK-8) assays, while scratch and transwell assays were used to evaluate cell migration and invasion. Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, was quantified using flow cytometry. Additionally, the expression levels of various biomarkers associated with EMT and the ERK1/2 signaling pathway were analyzed using real-time PCR and Western blot techniques. The results showed that the combination of Schisandra chinensis lignans and acteoside significantly decreased the expression of CCL20, a chemokine known to be involved in the recruitment of regulatory T cells (Tregs) to the tumor microenvironment[4]. This reduction in CCL20 expression was associated with decreased proliferation and migration of HCC cells, as well as increased apoptosis in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Molecular analysis revealed that the treatment increased the expression of E-cadherin, a protein that helps maintain epithelial cell integrity, and decreased the expression of N-cadherin, p-ERK1/2, c-Myc, and Vimentin, all of which are associated with the mesenchymal phenotype and cancer progression. These findings suggest that Schisandra chinensis lignans and acteoside inhibit EMT by modulating the ERK1/2 signaling pathway, which is crucial for cell proliferation and survival. In vivo experiments using nude mice further supported these findings. The treated mice showed significantly reduced tumor growth and volume, indicating the potential of these compounds in suppressing HCC progression. The study also employed multi-omics analysis, a comprehensive approach that integrates various types of biological data, to identify novel biomarkers and molecular subtypes for precision oncology. This approach can help tailor treatments to individual patients based on their unique molecular profiles, potentially improving treatment outcomes. In summary, this research demonstrates that Schisandra chinensis lignans and acteoside can counteract CCL20-induced EMT, invasion, and migration in hepatocellular carcinoma cells by targeting the ERK1/2 pathway, thereby enhancing apoptosis and reducing tumor growth. These findings provide a promising basis for developing new therapeutic strategies for HCC, leveraging the anti-cancer properties of traditional Chinese medicine.



Main Study

1) Multi-omics analysis reveals mechanism of Schisandra chinensis lignans and acteoside on EMT in hepatoma cells via ERK1/2 pathway.

Published 8th June, 2024

Journal: Functional & integrative genomics

Issue: Vol 24, Issue 3, Jun 2024

Related Studies

2) Brusatol reverses lipopolysaccharide-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transformation and induces apoptosis through PI3K/Akt/NF-кB pathway in human gastric cancer SGC-7901 cells.

3) CCL20 and CXCL8 synergize to promote progression and poor survival outcome in patients with colorectal cancer by collaborative induction of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition.

4) Selective recruitment of regulatory T cell through CCR6-CCL20 in hepatocellular carcinoma fosters tumor progression and predicts poor prognosis.

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