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Panminerva Medica 2020 March;62(1):7-12

DOI: 10.23736/S0031-0808.18.03561-9

Copyright © 2018 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Saffron inhibits the proliferation of hepatocellular carcinoma via inducing cell apoptosis

Tao LIU 1, Li TIAN 2, Xuefeng FU 3, Lili WEI 4, Jing LI 5, Tingting WANG 2

1 Department of Pharmacy of Traditional Medicine, People’s Hospital of Rizhao, Rizhao, China; 2 Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, People’s Hospital of Rizhao, Rizhao, China; 3 Department of Pharmacy, Wulian County Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Rizhao, China; 4 Preventive Vaccination Clinics, the People’s Hospital of Zhangqiu Area, Jinan, China; 5 Department of Surgery, the People’s Hospital of Zhangqiu Area, Jinan, China



BACKGROUND: Liver cancer remains the third leading cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide. The aim of this study was to explore the effect of saffron on liver cancer cell line QGY-7703 and the underlying molecular mechanism.
METHODS: Cell growth was detected by MTT (3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide) assay and cell cycle was assessed by flow cytometry. Besides, cell apoptosis was analyzed by Annexin V/PI (Propidium Iodide) staining, and the senescent cells morphology staining of β-galactosidase was evaluated by microscopy. In addition, ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) Kit was used to assess the activity of telomerase. Moreover, reverse transcription-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and Western blot analysis was applied to detect mRNA and protein expression levels, respectively.
RESULTS: Saffron treatment in QGY-7703 cells could significantly inhibit cell growth, arrest cell cycle in the G0/G1 phase, and induce cell apoptosis. Besides, the treatment of saffron could obviously decrease telomerase activity and hTERT level in QGY-7703 cells. In addition, enhanced Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and increased expression of P21 were found in saffron-treated cells. Moreover, we found that the number of senescent cells increased dramatically and the morphology of cells changed obviously after saffron treatment.
CONCLUSIONS: Saffron administration may provide some experimental evidence for the inhibitory effect of saffron on the proliferation of QGY-7703 cells, suggesting that saffron may have potential utility for the treatment of liver cancer.


KEY WORDS: Liver neoplasms; Crocus; Telomerase; Oncogene protein p21

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