Bioscience reports

Uncoupling protein 2 mediates resistance to gemcitabine-induced apoptosis in hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines.

PMID 26181366


Oxidative stress induction is a common effector pathway for commonly used chemotherapeutic agents like gemcitabine (GEM) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. However, GEM alone or in combination with oxiplatin hardly renders any survival benefits to HCC patients. Mitochondrial uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2) is known to suppress mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, thus mitigating oxidative stress-induced apoptosis. We demonstrate in the present study, using a panel of HCC cell lines that sensitivity to GEM in HCC well correlate with the endogenous level of UCP2 protein expression. Moreover, ectopic overexpression of UCP2 in a HCC cell line with low endogenous UCP2 expression, HLE, significantly decreased mitochondrial superoxide induction by the anti-cancer drug GEM. Conversely, UCP2 mRNA silencing by RNA interference in HCC cell lines with high endogenous UCP2 expression significantly enhanced GEM-induced mitochondrial superoxide generation and apoptosis. Cumulatively, our results suggest a critical role for mitochondrial uncoupling in GEM resistance in HCC cell lines. Hence, synergistic targeting of UCP2 in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents might be more potent in HCC patients.