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01.12.2018 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research 1/2018

The plant alkaloid tetrandrine inhibits metastasis via autophagy-dependent Wnt/β-catenin and metastatic tumor antigen 1 signaling in human liver cancer cells

Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research > Ausgabe 1/2018
Zhenxing Zhang, Ting Liu, Man Yu, Kangdi Li, Wenhua Li
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s13046-018-0678-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Tetrandrine is a bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid isolated from the Chinese medicinal herb Stephania tetrandra S. Moore. We previously demonstrated that tetrandrine exhibits potent antitumor effects in many types of cancer cells. In this study, we investigated the effects of tetrandrine on human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) metastasis.


The invasion and migration effects were evaluated via wound healing and transwell assays. Immunofluorescence and western blotting analyses were used to investigate the levels of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related protein. A metastasis model was established to investigate the inhibitory effect of tetrandrine on hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis in vivo.


Tetrandrine inhibits HCC invasion and migration by preventing cell EMT. The underlying mechanism was closely associated with tetrandrine-induced human liver cell autophagy, which inhibits Wnt/β-catenin pathway activity and decreases metastatic tumor antigen 1 (MTA1) expression to modulate cancer cell metastasis.


Our findings demonstrate, for the first time, that tetrandrine plays a significant role in the inhibition of human hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis and provide novel insights into the application of tetrandrine in clinical HCC treatment.
Additional file 1: Supplementary figures and figure legends. (DOCX 3775 kb)
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