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Biochimica et biophysica acta

Berberine suppresses Id-1 expression and inhibits the growth and development of lung metastases in hepatocellular carcinoma.


PMID 25496992

Abstract

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an invasive cancer with a high rate of recurrence and metastasis. Agents with anti-proliferative as well as anti-metastatic activity will be ideal for effective treatment. Here, we demonstrated that berberine, an isoquinoline alkaloid, harbored potent anti-metastatic and anti-proliferative activities in vivo. Using an orthotopic model of HCC (MHCC-97L), which spontaneously develops lung metastases (one of the most common sites of HCC metastasis), we found that berberine treatment (10mg/kg/2days) significantly reduced lung metastasis from the liver tumors by ~85% (quantitated by bioluminescence emitted from lung metastases). Histological examination also confirmed the reduced incidence and number of lung metastases in berberine-treated mice. Furthermore, berberine effectively suppressed extra-tumor invasion of the primary HCC implant into the surrounding normal liver tissue, illustrating its potent anti-metastatic action in vivo. Consistent with previous reports in other cancer, berberine's anti-tumor activity was accompanied by suppression of cellular proliferation, invasiveness and HIF-1α/VEGF signaling. Strikingly, further mechanistic investigation revealed that berberine exerted profound inhibitory effect on the expression of Id-1, which is a key regulator for HCC development and metastasis. Berberine could suppress the transcription level of Id-1 through inhibiting its promotor activity. Specific downregulation of Id-1 by knocking down its RNA transcripts in HCC cells inhibited cellular growth, invasion and VEGF secretion, demonstrating the functional relevance of Id-1 downregulation induced by berberine. Lastly, berberine's anti-proliferative and anti-invasive activities could be partially rescued by Id-1 overexpression in HCC models, revealing a novel anti-cancer/anti-invasive mechanism of berberine via Id-1 suppression.