Abstract Title:

Astragaloside IV inhibits hepatocellular carcinoma by continually suppressing the development of fibrosis and regulating pSmad3C/3L and Nrf2/HO-1 pathways.

Abstract Source:

J Ethnopharmacol. 2021 Jun 19 ;279:114350. Epub 2021 Jun 19. PMID: 34157326

Abstract Author(s):

Chong Zhang, Lili Li, Shu Hou, Zhenghao Shi, Wenjing Xu, Qin Wang, Yinghao He, Yongfang Gong, Zhirui Fang, Yan Yang

Article Affiliation:

Chong Zhang


ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Astragalus is a medicinal herb used in China for the prevention and treatment of diseases such as diabetes and cancer. As one of the main active ingredients of astragalus, Astragaloside IV (AS-IV) has a wide range of pharmacological effects, including anti-inflammation and anti-cancer effects.

AIM OF THE STUDY: Different phosphorylated forms of Smad3 differentially regulate the progression of hepatic carcinoma. The phosphorylation of the COOH-terminal of Smad3 (pSmad3C) and activation of the Nrf2/HO-1 pathway inhibits hepatic carcinoma, while phosphorylation of the linker region of Smad3 (pSmad3L) promotes progression. Thus, pSmad3C/3L and Nrf2/HO-1 pathways are potential targets for drug of anti-cancer development. AS-IV is anti-apoptotic and can inhibit hepatocellular carcinoma cell (HCC) proliferation, invasion, and tumor growth in nude mice. However, it is not clear whether AS-IV has a therapeutic effect on inhibiting the progression of primary liver cancer by regulating the pSmad3C/3L and Nrf2/HO-1 pathway. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether AS-IV inhibits hepatocellular carcinoma by regulating pSmad3C/3L and Nrf2/HO-1 pathway.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: primary liver cancer in mice induced by DEN/CCl/CHOH (DCC) and HSC-T6/HepG2 cell models activated by TGF-βwas investigated for the mechanisms of AS-IV. In vivo assays included liver biopsy, histopathology and post-mortem analysis included immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescent, and Western blotting analysis, and in vitro assays included immunofluorescent, and Western blotting analysis.

RESULTS: AS-IV significantly inhibited the development of primary liver cancer, reflecting improved liver biopsy, histopathology. The incidence and multiplicity of primary liver cancer were markedly decreased by AS-IV treatment at the 20th week. AS-IV had observable effects on the TGF-β/Smad and Nrf2/HO-1 expression in vivo, especially up-regulated pSmad3C, pNrf2, HO-1, and NQO1, while it down-regulated pSmad2C, pSmad2L, pSmad3L, PAI-1, andα-SMA at the 12th week and the 20th week. Furthermore, in vitro analysis further confirmed that AS-IV regulated the expression of pSmad3C/3L and Nrf2/HO-1 pathway in HSC-T6 and HepG2 cells activated by TGF-β.

CONCLUSION: AS-IV administration delays the occurrence of primary liver cancer by continually suppressing the development of fibrosis, the mechanism of the therapeutic effect involving the regulation of the pSmad3C/3L and Nrf2/HO-1 pathways, especially in regulation reversibility and antagonism of pSmad3C and pSmad3L and promoting the phosphorylation of Nrf2.

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