Stigmasterol isolated from marine microalgae Navicula incerta induces apoptosis in human hepatoma HepG2 cells

BMB Rep. 2014 Aug;47(8):433-8. doi: 10.5483/bmbrep.2014.47.8.153.


Plant sterols have shown potent anti-proliferative effects and apoptosis induction against breast and prostate cancers. However, the effect of sterols against hepatic cancer has not been investigated. In the present study, we assessed whether the stigmasterol isolated from Navicula incerta possesses apoptosis inductive effect in hepatocarcimona (HepG2) cells. According to the results, Stigmasterol has up-regulated the expression of pro-apoptotic gene expressions (Bax, p53) while down-regulating the anti-apoptotic genes (Bcl-2). Probably via mitochondrial apoptosis signaling pathway. With the induction of apoptosis caspase-8, 9 were activated. The DNA damage and increase in apoptotic cell numbers were observed through Hoechst staining, annexin V staining and cell cycle analysis. According to these results, we can suggest that the stigmasterol shows potent apoptosis inductive effects and has the potential to be tested as an anti-cancer therapeutic against liver cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / isolation & purification
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Caspase 8 / metabolism
  • Caspase 9 / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • DNA Damage / drug effects
  • Diatoms / chemistry*
  • Diatoms / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Stigmasterol / chemistry
  • Stigmasterol / isolation & purification
  • Stigmasterol / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Stigmasterol
  • Caspase 8
  • Caspase 9