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01.12.2017 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2017

Elevation of tumour markers TGF-β, M2-PK, OV-6 and AFP in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)-induced rats and their suppression by microalgae Chlorella vulgaris

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2017
Khaizurin Tajul Arifin, Suhaniza Sulaiman, Suhana Md Saad, Hanafi Ahmad Damanhuri, Wan Zurinah Wan Ngah, Yasmin Anum Mohd Yusof



Chlorella vulgaris (ChV), a unicellular green algae has been reported to have anticancer and antioxidant effects. The aim of this study was to determine the chemopreventive effect of ChV on liver cancer induced rats by determining the level and expression of several liver tumour markers.


Male Wistar rats (200–250 g) were divided into 4 groups according to the diet given: control group (normal diet), ChV group with three different doses (50, 150 and 300 mg/kg body weight), liver cancer- induced group (choline deficient diet + 0.1% ethionine in drinking water or CDE group), and the treatment group (CDE group treated with three different doses of ChV). Rats were killed at 0, 4, 8 and 12 weeks of experiment and blood and tissue samples were taken from all groups for the determination of tumour markers expression alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), M2-pyruvate kinase (M2-PK) and specific antigen for oval cells (OV-6).


Serum level of TGF-β increased significantly (p < 0.05) in CDE rats. However, ChV at all doses managed to decrease (p < 0.05) its levels to control values. Expressions of liver tumour markers AFP, TGF-β, M2-PK and OV-6 were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in tissues of CDE rats when compared to control showing an increased number of cancer cells during hepatocarcinogenesis. ChV at all doses reduced their expressions significantly (p < 0.05).


Chlorella vulgaris has chemopreventive effect by downregulating the expression of tumour markers M2-PK, OV-6, AFP and TGF-β, in HCC-induced rats.
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