JOURNAL ARTICLE

Pien Tze Huang inhibits liver metastasis by targeting TGF-β signaling in an orthotopic model of colorectal cancer

Wei Lin, Qunchuan Zhuang, Liangpu Zheng, Zhiyun Cao, Aling Shen, Qiongyu Li, Caixuan Fu, Jianyu Feng, Jun Peng
Oncology Reports 2015, 33 (4): 1922-8
25653118
Metastasis is the leading cause of cancer-related mortality in almost all types of cancers, including colorectal cancer (CRC). Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a critical process during the metastatic cascade. This process may be a potential target for the diagnosis and treatment of CRC. Pien Tze Huang (PZH), a well-known traditional Chinese formula, has been demonstrated to be clinically effective in treating various types of human malignancies, including CRC. Our published data suggest that PZH can induce apoptosis, as well as inhibit cell proliferation and tumor angiogenesis, thus suppressing CRC growth in vitro and in vivo. We evaluated the therapeutic efficacy of PZH against CRC metastasis using a CRC liver metastasis mouse model to further explore the mechanisms underlying the antitumor action of PZH. MTT, migration, and Matrigel invasion assays were used to assess the effect of PZH on cell viability, migration and invasion. We then established an orthotopic liver metastasis model of colon cancer using microsurgical techniques. Mice were intragastrically administered 234 mg/kg/day dose of either PZH or saline for 14 days. The body and tumor weights of the mice were measured after they were sacrificed. Moreover, we examined the effect of PZH inhibition on liver metastasis. Finally, EMT-related proteins and the TGF-β signaling pathway were assessed using immunohistochemical staining (IHS). The present data revealed that PZH significantly inhibited the migration and invasion of CT-26 cells in a dose-dependent manner, which affirmed the inhibitory effect of PZH on CRC cell metastasis. No significant change was observed between the in vivo primary tumor growth and body weight. However, the control group had five cases of liver metastasis (5/6), whereas one case was found in the PZH group (1/6). Thus, PZH exhibited therapeutic efficacy against CRC metastasis without apparent toxicity. The inhibitory effect of PZH on EMT resulted in an increase in E-cadherin expression, as well as a decrease in N-cadherin expression. In addition, PZH significantly inhibited TGF-β, as well as the phosphorylation of Smad2/3 and Smad4 in the tumor tissues, indicating its suppressive action on TGF-β signaling. These molecular effects ultimately resulted in the inhibition of cancer cell EMT and tumor metastasis.

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