Puerarin inhibits hepatocellular carcinoma invasion and metastasis through miR-21-mediated PTEN/AKT signaling to suppress the epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Braz J Med Biol Res. 2020 ;53(4):e8882. Epub 2020 Mar 31. PMID: 32294699
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common primary malignant tumors of the liver worldwide. Liver resection and transplantation are currently the only effective treatments; however, recurrence and metastasis rates are still high. Previous studies have shown that the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key step in HCC invasion and metastasis. Inhibition of EMT has become a new therapeutic strategy for tumors. Recently, puerarin, a well-characterized component of traditional Chinese medicine, has been isolated from Pueraria radix and exerts positive effects on many diseases, particularly cancers. In this study, CCK-8, EdU immunofluorescence, colony formation, wound healing, and migration assays were used to detect the effects of puerarin on HCC cells. We further analyzed the relationship between puerarin and miR-21/PTEN/EMT markers in HCC cell lines. Our results showed that HCC cell proliferation, migration, invasion, tumor formation, and metastasis were reduced by puerarin in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, puerarin inhibited the EMT process of HCC by affecting the expression of Slug and Snail. Moreover, oncogenic miR-21 was inhibited by puerarin, coupled with an increase in the tumor suppressor gene PTEN. Increasing miR-21 expression or decreasing PTEN expression reversed the inhibition effects of puerarin in HCC. These data confirmed that puerarin affects HCC through the miR-21/PTEN/EMT regulatory axis. Overall, puerarin may represent a chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic agent for HCC treatment.