JOURNAL ARTICLE

Shikonin inhibits the proliferation and induces the apoptosis of human HepG2 cells

Nie Yingkun, Zhu Lvsong, Yu Huimin
Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 2010, 88 (12): 1138-46
21164560
This study investigated the potential of shikonin as an anticancer agent against liver cancer and an in vitro human hepatoma cancer model system. The HepG2 cell line was the hepatoma cancer model in the present study. The inhibitory effect of shikonin on the growth of HepG2 cells was measured by MTT assay. To explore the underlying mechanism of cell growth inhibition of shikonin, the cell cycle distribution, DNA fragmentation, mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) disruption, and expression of Bax and Bcl-2 were measured in HepG2 cells. The activity of shikonin in inducing apoptosis was investigated through the detection of Annexin V signal and CD95 expression by flow cytometry and electron microscopy, respectively. Shikonin inhibited the growth of HepG2 cells in a dose-dependent manner. The IC50 value (inhibiting cell growth by 50%) was 4.30 mg/mL. Shikonin inhibited cell growth in a dose-dependent manner and blocked HepG2 cell cycle progression at the S phase. The changes in mitochondrial morphology, dose-dependently decreased in ΔΨm, were observed in different concentrations of the drug treatment group. Western blot analysis showed that cajanol inhibited Bcl-2 expression and induced Bax expression. Furthermore, we show that shikonin increases Annexin V signal and CD95 (Fas/APO) expression, resulting in apoptotic cell death of HepG2 cells. In addition, lump formation of intranuclear chromatin, pyknosis of cell nucleus, deletion of microvillus, vacuolar degeneration of mitochondria, reduction of rough endoplasmic reticulum, and resolution of free ribosome, etc., associated with apoptosis were discovered by electron microscopy in HepG2 cells after 48 h treatment. Shikonin inhibited HepG2 cells, possibly through the pathway of inducing early apoptosis, and was beneficial for restoring the apoptotic sensitivity of HepG2 cells by CD95, and should therefore be considered as a candidate agent for the prevention or treatment of human hepatoma.

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