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Natural product is one of the most important sources of drugs used in pharmaceutical therapeutics. Artemisia capillaris has been traditionally used as a hepatoprotective and anti-inflammatory agent. In this study, we extracted an ethanol fraction (LAC117) from the dried leaves of Artemisia capillaris and identified its anticancer activity and mechanism of action against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Anti-proliferative effect of LAC117 was evaluated by MTT assay and BrdU assay. The apoptotic effect of LAC117 on the expression of cleaved PARP and cleaved caspase-3 was evaluated by Western blot and immunohistochemistry from in vivo mouse xenograft, respectively.
We found that LAC117 strongly suppressed the growth and proliferation of human HCC cell lines (HepG2 and Huh7). Induction of apoptosis was evidenced by the increases of cleaved caspase-3 and PARP as well as TUNEL-positive cells. Additionally, the pro-apoptotic effect of LAC117 was observed by a decrease in the expression of the XIAP and an increase in cytochrome c releases via mitochondrial membrane potential. Moreover, it significantly inhibited PI3K/AKT pathway in HCC in vivo and in vitro. LAC117 suppressed tumor growth in an ex vivo model as well as in vivo mouse xenograft by inducing apoptosis and inhibiting tumor cell proliferation.
The present study highlights that LAC117 could not only efficiently induce apoptosis, but also inhibit the growth of human HCC cells by blocking the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, suggesting that LAC117 would be a potentially useful drug candidate against HCC.