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Saffron-Based Crocin Prevents Early Lesions of Liver Cancer: In vivo, In vitro and Network Analyses

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Background: The angiogenesis inhibitor, sorafenib, remains the only available therapy of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Only recently patents of VEGF receptors-3 inhibitors are developed. Thus, a novel approach against HCC is essential for a better therapeutic outcome. Objective: The aims of this study were to examine the chemopreventive action of saffron’s main biomolecule, crocin, against chemically-induced liver cancer in rats, and to explore the mechanisms by which crocin employs its anti-tumor effects. Method: We investigated the anti-cancer effect of crocin on an experimental carcinogenesis model of liver cancer by studying the anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferation, pro-apoptotic activities of crocin in vivo. In addition, we provided a network analysis of differentially expressed genes in tissues of animals pre-treated with crocin in comparison to induced-HCC animals’ tissues. To further support our results, in vitro analysis was carried out. We assessed the effects of crocin on HepG2 cells viability by treating them with various concentrations of crocin; in addition, effects of crocin on cell cycle distribution of HepG2 cells were investigated. Results: Findings reported herein demonstrated the anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic properties of crocin when administrated in induced- HCC model. Crocin exhibited anti-inflammatory properties where NF-κB, among other inflammatory markers, was inhibited. In vitro analysis confirmed crocin’s effect in HepG2 by arresting the cell cycle at S and G2/M phases, inducing apoptosis and down regulating inflammation. Network analysis identified NF-κB as a potential regulatory hub, and therefore, a candidate therapeutic drug target. Conclusion: Taken together, our findings introduce crocin as a candidate chemopreventive agent against HCC.
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Keywords: Apoptosis; NF-κB; crocin; inflammation; liver cancer; network analysis

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2016

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  • Recent Patents on Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery publishes review articles on recent patents in the field of anti-cancer drug discovery e.g. novel bioactive compounds, analogs & targets. A selection of important and recent patents on anti-cancer drug discovery is also included in the journal. The journal is essential reading for all researchers involved in anti-cancer drug design and discovery.
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