Liquiritin inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in HepG2 hepatocellular carcinoma cells via the ROS-mediated MAPK/AKT/NF-κB signaling pathway.
Naunyn Schmiedebergs Arch Pharmacol. 2020 Jan 20. Epub 2020 Jan 20. PMID: 31956937
Liquiritin (LIQ), a major constituent of Glycyrrhiza Radix, exhibits various pharmacological activities. In this study, to explore the potential anti-cancer effects and its underlying molecular mechanisms of LIQ in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells. LIQ significantly decreased viability and induced apoptosis in HepG2 cells by decreasing mitochondrial membrane potential and regulating Bcl-2 family proteins, cytochrome c, cle-caspase-3, and cle-PARP. The cell cycle analysis and western blot analysis revealed that LIQ induced G2/M phase arrest through increased expression of p21 and decreased levels of p27, cyclin B, and CDK1/2. The flow cytometry and western blot analysis also suggested that LIQ promoted the accumulation of ROS in HepG2 cells and up-regulated the phosphorylation expression levels of p38 kinase, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), and inhibitor of NF-κB (IκB-α); the phosphorylation levels of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), protein kinase B (AKT), signal transducer activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) were down-regulated. However, these effects were reversed by N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC), MAPK,and AKT inhibitors. The findings demonstrated that LIQ induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis via the ROS-mediated MAPK/AKT/NF-κB signaling pathway in HepG2 cells, and the LIQ may serve as a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of human HCC.