Inhibitory Effect of Hernandezine on the Proliferation of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Chiufai Kuok, Qi Wang, Pedro Fong, Yong Qin, Lirong Meng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) causes 830000 deaths every year and is becoming the third malignant tumor worldwide. One of the primary reasons is the lack of effective drugs. Hernandezine (HER), a bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloid of Thalictrum simplex, has been confirmed to have antitumor activity. But there are few reports about its effect on HCC and the underlying mechanisms still remain unclear. Therefore, the antitumor effects and mechanisms of HER on HCC were evaluated in HepG2 and Hep3B cells. The in vitro experiments demonstrated that HER significantly induced G0/G1 phase arrest, inhibited the proliferation and promoted cell apoptosis in liver cancer cell lines. In the mechanisms, the antitumor effects of HER on liver cancer cells were mediated by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-protein kinase B (AKT) pathway and reactive oxygen species (ROS), simultaneously. In one way, HER inhibited the activities of PI3K-AKT pathway, which interrupt the dimer formation of cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) and cyclin D1 (CCND1) and result to G0/G1 phase arrest. In another way, after HER treatment, ROS accumulated in liver cancer cells and caused mitochondria injury which further influenced the expression of apoptosis-related proteins and eventually resulted to HepG2 and Hep3B cell apoptosis. In addition, HER showed a tumor restrain function in HepG2 and Hep3B bearing nude mice. Overall, these findings indicated that HER is a promising antitumor drug, which may provide a new direction for clinical HCC treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-256
Number of pages12
JournalBiological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • apoptosis
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • hernandezine
  • phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase
  • protein kinase B
  • reactive oxygen species


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