The aim of our study was to investigate the mechanisms by which rhubarb regulates β-catenin as well as metastasis of hepatocellular carcinomas. Our results revealed that rhubarb extract inhibited HA22T cell migration ability in wound healing, migration and invasion assays in a dose-dependent manner. Rhubarb also reduced β-catenin protein level, downregulated its downstream proteins, cyclin D, Tbx3 and c-Myc, and attenuated the expression of MMP9 and contactin-1 metastatic factors. Additionally, rhubarb inhibited β-catenin nuclear accumulation and induced its degradation via proteasome-mediated pathway. Furthermore, we found that rhubarb suppressed the p-ser(9) GSK-3-β protein level to inactivate Wnt signalling and reduce β-catenin protein level. Taken together; we found that rhubarb blocked the metastatic process of HA22T hepatocellular carcinoma cells mediated through GSK-3-β activation, and enhancement of protein degradation as well as reduction of the nuclear accumulation of β-catenin.
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