Background: S-propargyl-cysteine (SPRC), an H(2)S donor, is a structural analogue of S-allycysteine (SAC). It was investigated for its potential anti-cancer effect on SGC-7901 gastric cancer cells and the possible mechanisms that may be involved.
Methods and findings: SPRC treatment significantly decreased cell viability, suppressed the proliferation and migration of SPRC-7901 gastric cancer cells, was pro-apoptotic as well as caused cell cycle arrest at the G(1)/S phase. In an in vivo study, intra-peritoneal injection of 50 mg/kg and 100 mg/kg of SPRC significantly reduced tumor weights and tumor volumes of gastric cancer implants in nude mice, with a tumor growth inhibition rate of 40-75%. SPRC also induced a pro-apoptotic effect in cancer tissues and elevated the expressions of p53 and Bax in tumors and cells. SPRC treatment also increased protein expression of cystathione-γ-lyase (CSE) in cells and tumors, and elevated H(2)S levels in cell culture media, plasma and tumoral CSE activity of gastric cancer-induced nude mice by 2, 2.3 and 1.4 fold, respectively. Most of the anti-cancer functions of SPRC on cells and tumors were significantly suppressed by PAG, an inhibitor of CSE activity.
Conclusions: Taken together, the results of our study provide insights into a novel anti-cancer effect of H(2)S as well as of SPRC on gastric cancer through inducing the activity of a new target, CSE.