Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the most fatal gynecological malignancy due to its high proliferative and invasive capacities. A heregulin (HRG)/HER3 autocrine loop increases proliferative and metastatic properties of EOC cells, suggesting that modulators of this signaling pathway may prove effective to trammel growth and motility of these cells. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitor silibinin on proliferative and invasive characteristics of EOC cell lines OVCAR8 and SKOV3 through suppression of the HRG/HER3 pathway. To achieve this, the effects of silibinin on proliferation, DNA synthesis, clonogenicity, cell cycle progression, cathepsin B enzymatic activity, and migration and invasion were explored in vitro. Silibinin suppressed proliferation, DNA synthesis, and clonogenic abilities of OVCAR8 and SKOV3 cells through inhibition of the autocrine HRG/HER3 circuit. Silibinin-mediated attenuation of the HER3 signaling disabled the HER3/AKT/survivin axis and thereby, induced G1/S cell cycle arrest. Furthermore, silibinin reduced invasive potentials of the EOC cells through quelling the HRG/HER3 pathway and suppression of cathepsin B activity. Altogether, these results suggest that silibinin is a potential anti-cancer drug to inhibit proliferative and invasive characteristics of the EOC cells that exhibit an autocrine HRG/HER3 pathway.
Keywords: Epithelial ovarian cancer; Heregulin/HER3 signaling; Motility; Silibinin.