Oxytetracycline have the therapeutic efficiency in CD133+ HCC population through suppression CD133 expression by decreasing of protein stability of CD133

Sci Rep. 2018 Oct 31;8(1):16100. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-34301-1.


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are considered a serious sub-population in cancer tissues because of their strong resistance to conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Thus, the current advancements in the use of liver cancer stem cells (LCSC) to develop efficient and organized means to an antitumor agent is quickly gaining recognition as a novel goal. Previously, we characterized CSCs in primary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and identified CD133 as a CSC cell-surface marker. In this study, we proposed to use non-target based high throughput screening (HTS) approach to specifically target AFP+/CD133+ HCC present in mixed populations of HCC cells with hepatocytes. Through screening, we identified oxytetracycline, which showed significant inhibition activity of LCSC population without damage on hepatocytes. To determine whether oxytetracycline targets LCSC, we examined whether oxytetracycline treatment could change the CD133 expression, spheroid forming ability as well as the levels of stem cell-related markers. Treatment of spheroid-forming LCSC with oxytetracycline effectively decreased the spheroid formation and the CD133+ cell population. oxytetracycline could suppress expression of CD133 without changing of expression of other stem cell-related markers. Importantly, these series of phenomena by oxytetracycline occurs because of alteration of CD133 protein stability by oxytetracycline. Alterations in the malignant properties of AFP+/CD133+ HCC by oxytetracycline were also investigated by xenograft assay in nude mice. Treatment of oxytetracycline significantly attenuated tumor formation and CD133+ cell population in xenograft mice. These results indicate that the oxytetracycline suppresses stemness and malignancies in HCC cells through destabilization of CD133 in LCSC population, providing novel therapeutic strategies targeting specifically cancer stem-like cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AC133 Antigen / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Oxytetracycline / pharmacology*
  • Protein Stability / drug effects
  • Tumor Burden / drug effects


  • AC133 Antigen
  • Oxytetracycline