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Anti-Cancer Effects of Citalopram on Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells Occur via Cytochrome C Release and the Activation of NF-kB

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Background: Evidence has been provided of the anti-proliferative activity of citalopram against some cancer cells.

Objective: The apoptotic impact of citalopram, an antidepressant, against liver hepatocellular carcinoma cell line HepG2 was investigated in relation to the oxidative pathway and nuclear factor (NF)κB activation.

Method: The cytotoxic effects of citalopram on HepG2 cells were determined by MTT assay. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and cytochrome c release were measured following treatment with citalopram. Apoptosis analysis and Bax and Bcl-­2 mRNA and protein levels were also determined.

Results: The cytotoxic effects of different concentrations of citalopram on HepG2 cells were observed as a reduction in cell viability and an increase in ROS formation. Citalopram caused an increase in mitochondrial Bax levels and a decrease in Bcl2 levels and also caused cytochrome c release. Moreover, DAPI staining and flow cytometry assays revealed citalopram-induced apoptosis in HepG2 cells. Oxidant scavengers and Bay 11-7082 (an irreversible inhibitor of NFκB activation) prevented the citalopram-associated cell death, increased BAX and decreased Bcl2.

Conclusion: Outcomes from current study suggest that citalopram might exhibit apoptotic effect against hepatocellular carcinoma cell line by induction of cell death through cytochrome c release and ROS-dependent activation of NFκB.
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Keywords: Bay11-7082; Citalopram; HepG2; apoptosis; cancer; cytotoxicity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2017

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