Background: Previously, the authors observed that paclitaxel treatment of hepatoma cells resulted in differential cytotoxicity. Whether other antimicrotubule agents (docetaxel and 2-methoxyestradiol) are more effective than paclitaxel is not clear. Moreover, whether the modulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is involved in the drug-induced growth inhibition of hepatoma cells is not known.
Methods: The authors examined the effects of 2-methoxyestradiol, paclitaxel, and docetaxel on HepG2, Hep3B, HA22T/VGH, and Hepa1-6 hepatoma cell lines. The parameters examined included cell viability, cell membrane permeability, cell cycle distribution, DNA fragmentation, and ROS generation.
Results: Docetaxel and paclitaxel inhibited the growth of hepatoma cells at submicromolar concentrations, whereas that of 2-methoxyestradiol was within a micromolar range. This drug-induced growth inhibition was cell cycle dependent. 2-Methoxyestradiol-treated (10-50 microM) cells resulted in G2/M block prior to apoptosis. High dose (0.1 microM) docetaxel- and paclitaxel-treated cells resulted in a G2/M arrest followed by generation of polyploidy or apoptosis; however, low dose (0.01 microM) treatment induced apoptosis without G2/M arrest. The low dose effect was more significant in docetaxel-treated cells than in paclitaxel-treated cells. Although these antimicrotubule agents increased the formation of ROS, antioxidant treatment did not block drug-induced cell cycle and growth inhibition effects.
Conclusions: The current results suggest that the growth inhibition of hepatoma cells induced by 2-methoxyestradiol, paclitaxel, and docetaxel was mediated through G2/M-phase arrest, caspase activation, and DNA fragmentation. The drug-induced apoptosis was independent of ROS formation. Docetaxel was more effective than paclitaxel in killing hepatoma cells. The potential of using 2-methoxyestradiol and docetaxel for the treatment of patients with hepatoma is worthy of further study.