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Synergistic antitumoral activity and induction of apoptosis by novel pan Bcl-2 proteins inhibitor apogossypolone with adriamycin in human hepatocellular carcinoma

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Aim: To investigate the in vitro and in vivo activities and related mechanism of apogossypolone (ApoG2) alone or in combination with adriamycin (ADM) against human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Methods: The IC50 of ApoG2 in vitro was tested by WST assay, and the synergistic effect was analyzed using the CalcuSyn method. Cell apoptosis was determined using 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole staining and flow cytometric analysis. Western blotting was used to determine the expression of apoptosis-related proteins. In vivo activity was evaluated in the xenograft model in nude mice, and apoptosis in tumor tissues was determined by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated digoxigenin-dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) assay. Results: The IC50 of ApoG2 in HCC cells was 17.28–30.63 mol/L. When ApoG2 was combined with ADM, increased cytotoxicity and apoptosis were observed in SMMC-7721 cells compared to treatment with ApoG2 alone. The Western blotting results indicated that the ApoG2 induced apoptosis in SMMC-7721 cells by downregulating anti-apoptotic proteins Bcl-2, Mcl-1, and Bcl-XL, up-regulating pro-apoptotic protein Noxa, and promoting the activities of caspases-9 and -3. The tumor growth of xenograft SMMC-7721 was inhibited in nude mice when ApoG2 was administered orally without causing damage to the normal tissues. The in vivo study also indicated an increasing anti-tumoral effect when ApoG2 at 100 or 200 mg/kg dosages were used together with ADM at 5.5 mg/kg, with relative tumor proliferation rate (T/C) values of 0.456 and 0.323, respectively. Apoptosis induced in vivo by ApoG2 alone or combined with ADM was confirmed by TUNEL assay in tumor tissues. Conclusion: ApoG2 is a potential non-toxic target agent that induces apoptosis by upregulating Noxa, while inhibiting anti-apoptotic proteins and promoting the effect of chemotherapy agent ADM in HCC.

Keywords: adriamycin; apogossypolone; apoptosis; combination drug therapy; hepatocellular carcinoma; proto-oncogene protein bcl-2

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China 2: Ascenta (Shanghai) R&D Center, Shanghai 201203, China

Publication date: December 1, 2008


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