CBL0137 administration suppresses human hepatocellular carcinoma cells proliferation and induces apoptosis associated with multiple cell death related proteins

Neoplasma. 2020 May;67(3):547-556. doi: 10.4149/neo_2020_190621N535. Epub 2020 Mar 24.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the deadliest cancers worldwide due to the lack of effective therapy methods. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop novel therapies for HCC. CBL0137 is a small molecule that affects p53 and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB). The expression of p53 was measured by using immunohistochemistry (IHC) in tumor and adjacent tissues. Western blotting (WB) and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) were employed to detect the level of p-p53, p53, Bax, and PUMA after CBL0137 administration. CCK-8 and immunofluorescence staining (IF) assays were performed to evaluate the proliferation and viability of HCC cells. Flow cytometry was used to detect the apoptosis of HCC cells. Xenograft model was established to determine the effect of CBL0137 treatment on HCC tumor growth in vivo. HE staining was used to monitor HCC cell morphology and IHC staining for Ki-67 was performed to determine the tumor cell proliferation following CBL0137 treatment. Results showed that the expression of p-p53, p53, Bax, and PUMA was upregulated after CBL0137 administration. The viability, growth, and colony formation of HCC cells were significantly inhibited by CBL0137 in the CBL group compared with the NC group (p<0.05). Meanwhile, the results revealed that the proportions of apoptotic and necrotic cells were significantly elevated in the CBL group compared to the NC group (p<0.05). And the apoptosis-related proteins including PARP, caspase-3, caspase-7, caspase-8, and caspase-9 were increased in the CBL group compared with the NC group (p<0.05), while the NF-κB, p-NF-κB and p-AKT expression levels were significantly downregulated following CBL0137 treatment (p<0.05). Additionally, the tumor volume and weight were significantly reduced in the CBL group compared with the NC group (p<0.05). Moreover, HE staining and IHC staining for Ki-67 indicated that CBL0137 treatment could obviously induce cell apoptosis and suppress cell proliferation. CBL0137 treatment could effectively inhibit HCC cell proliferation and induce cell apoptosis associated with multiple factors expression.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / genetics
  • Apoptosis*
  • Carbazoles / pharmacology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein / genetics


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • BAX protein, human
  • BBC3 protein, human
  • CBLC137
  • Carbazoles
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • TP53 protein, human
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein