Artemisinin for hepatocellular carcinoma cells.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Hepatoma (Care and treatment)
Artemisia (Health aspects)
Author: Finney-Brown, Tessa
Pub Date: 03/22/2011
Publication: Name: Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism Publisher: National Herbalists Association of Australia Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 National Herbalists Association of Australia ISSN: 1033-8330
Issue: Date: Spring, 2011 Source Volume: 23 Source Issue: 1
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia
Accession Number: 254971774
Full Text: Weifeng T, Feng S, Xiangji L et al. 2011. Artemisinin inhibits in vitro and in vivo invasion and metastasis of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Phytomed 18:2-3;158-62.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive malignancy that often presents at late stages when patients become symptomatic and it is relatively resistant to most conventional chemotherapeutic agents. The response rate of single agent or combination systemic chemotherapy for HCC tends to be approximately 10-30%. Although surgery offers the chance of a cure, 80% of patients have incurable, unresectable disease at presentation.

Artemisinin (ART) is a natural product isolated from the plant Artemisia annua, sweet wormwood. It has been widely used as an antimalarial compound. ART derivatives have antiproliferative effects on various tumour cell lines including cancers of the breast, prostate, colon and liver.

This study sought to demonstrate the anti-invasion and antimetastasis effects of ART on HCC cells, investigating the mechanisms behind these effects both in vitro and in vivo. Human HCC cell lines HepG2 and SMMC-7721 were maintained on cell plates at 37[degrees]C, 5% C[O.sub.2] in DMEM (Gibco) supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum, 100 units/mL penicillin, and 0.1 mg/mL streptomycin.

ART was dissolved in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) to a final concentration of 0.2 mL/L. HepG2 and SMMC7721 cells were seeded in flasks or dishes and ART treated cells were subjected to 0, 12.5, 25, 50 or 75liM ART for 24, 48 or 72 hours. For control cells equal volumes of DMSO were added and measurements made after 72 hours.

ART was found to inhibit both cell motility and migration in a dose dependent and time dependent manner; this effect appeared at 12.51M. Invasion and metastasis are often features of cancer cells and rapid invasion and metastasis are the main causes of poor outcomes after liver cancer treatment.

Male athymic BALB/c nu/nu mice had the liver surface mechanically injured and a piece of HepG2 tumour tissue (2mmx2mmx2mm) fixed into the liver tissue. Mice were randomised into control or intervention groups (C1 50 mg/kg/d; C2 100 mg/g/d) with 10 mice in each group. Fewer tumours were found in the lungs of mice treated with ART at 100 mg/kg/d (C2 group) compared with the control group (P<0.01). The tumour inhibition rate was 51.8% for the C1 group and 79.6% for the C2 group.

Results from both the in vitro migration and wound healing assays suggested that ART has a potentially inhibiting effect on HCC metastasis. ART treatment also significantly reduced cell adhesion contributing to a decrease in cell migration. Further studies examining the use and effectiveness of this compound in humans would be required to fully elucidated the role of artemisinin in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Tessa Finney-Brown mnhaa
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