The aim of the present study was to investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying Cratoxylum formosum (CF) Dyer-induced cancer cell death and antimigratory effects in HepG2 liver cancer cells. The cytotoxic, antiproliferative and antimigratory effects of CF leaf extract on human liver cancer HepG2 cell lines were evaluated using sulforhodamine B, colony formation, and wound healing assays. In addition, apoptosis induction mechanisms were investigated via reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation, caspase 3 activities, and mitochondrial membrane potential (ΔΨm) disruption. Gene expression and apoptosis-associated protein levels were measured by reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction and western blotting. CF induced HepG2 cell death in a time- and dose-dependent manner with half maximal inhibitory concentration values of 219.03±9.96 and 124.90±6.86 µg/ml at 24 and 48 h, respectively. Treatment with CF caused a significant and dose-dependent decrease in colony forming ability and cell migration. Furthermore, the present study demonstrated that CF induced ROS formation, increased caspase 3 activities, decreased the ΔΨm, and caused HepG2 apoptosis. CF marginally decreased the expression level of the cell cycle regulatory protein, ras-related C3 botulinum toxin substrate 1 (rho family, small GTP binding protein Rac1) and the downstream protein, cyclin dependent kinase 6. Additionally, CF significantly enhanced p21 levels, reduced cyclin D1 protein levels and triggered cancer cell death. CF leaf extracts induced cell death, stimulated apoptosis and inhibited migration in HepG2 cells. Thus, CF may be useful for developing an anticancer drug candidate for the treatment of liver cancer.
Keywords: Cratoxy formosum; HepG2; cytotoxicity; liver cancer; migration.