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A Water-Soluble Hydrogen Sulfide Donor Suppresses the Growth of Hepatocellular Carcinoma via Inhibiting the AKT/GSK-3 β / β -Catenin and TGF- β /Smad2/3 Signaling Pathways.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a disease with high morbidity, high mortality, and low cure rate. Hyaluronic acid (HA) is widely adopted in tissue engineering and drug delivery. 5-(4-Hydroxyphenyl)-3H-1, 2-dithiol-3-thione (ADT-OH) is one of commonly used H2 S donors. In our previous study, HA-ADT was designed and synthesized via coupling of HA and ADT-OH. In this study, compared with sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS, a fast H2 S-releasing donor) and morpholin-4-ium (4-methoxyphenyl)-morpholin-4-ylsulfanylidenesulfido- λ 5-phosphane (GYY4137, a slow H2 S-releasing donor), HA-ADT showed stronger inhibitory effect on the proliferation, migration, invasion, and cell cycle of human HCC cells. HA-ADT promoted apoptosis by suppressing the expressions of phospho (p)-protein kinase B (PKB/AKT), p-glycogen synthase kinase-3 β (GSK-3 β ), p- β -catenin, and also inhibited autophagy via the downregulation of the protein levels of p-Smad2, p-Smad3, and transforming growth factor- β (TGF- β ) in human HCC cells. Moreover, HA-ADT inhibited HCC xenograft tumor growth more effectively than both NaHS and GYY4137. Therefore, HA-ADT can suppress the growth of HCC cells by blocking the AKT/GSK-3 β / β -catenin and TGF- β /Smad2/3 signaling pathways. HA-ADT and its derivatives may be developed as promising antitumor drugs.

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