2,3,7,8‑Tetrachlorodibenzo‑p‑dioxin suppresses the growth of human liver cancer HepG2 cells in vitro: Involvement of cell signaling factors
- Masayoshi Yamaguchi
- Oliver Hankinson
Published online on: July 27, 2018
The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is transcriptionally active in the form of a heterodimer with the AHR nuclear translocator, which then binds to the xenobiotic responsive element. AHR was originally discovered via its ligand, the polychlorinated hydrocarbon, 2,3,7,8‑tetrachlorodibenzo‑p‑dioxin (TCDD). In this study, we investigated whether TCDD regulates the growth of human liver cancer HepG2 cells in vitro. TCDD (0.1‑100 nM) was found to exert suppressive effects on the colony formation and proliferation of HepG2 cells, and stimulatory effects on the death of HepG2 cells when the cells reached subconfluence. The effects of TCDD on the HepG2 cells were abolished by culture with CH223191, an inhibitor of AHR signaling. The effects of TCDD were dependent on the concentration of serum, which contains various signaling factors. The effects of TCDD were not potentiated by culture with tumor necrosis factor‑α, which activates the signaling of nuclear factor‑κB (NF‑κB). The results of western blot analysis revealed that TCDD increased the protein levels of p53, Rb, p21, and regucalcin, which are suppressors of the growth of tumor cells. Moreover, TCDD enhanced the NF‑κB p65, β‑catenin, signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), Ras and Akt levels. Thus, the findings of this study indicate that TCDD may suppress liver cancer cell growth through various signaling pathways, mediated by AHR and its‑related co‑factors. Of note, the effects of TCDD were found to be potentiated by gemcitabine, which induces nuclear DNA damage in cancer cells, suggesting that their combined use may have potential as a suppressor of tumor cell growth.