Ceramide production mediates cinobufotalin-induced growth inhibition and apoptosis in cultured hepatocellular carcinoma cells
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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly aggressive and lethal neoplasm with poor prognosis. The aim of this study is to investigate the anticancer activity of cinobufotalin, a bufadienolide isolated from toad venom, in cultured HCC cells, and to study the underlying mechanisms. We found that cinobufotalin (at nmol/L) significantly inhibited HCC cell growth and survival while inducing considerable cell apoptosis. Further, cinobufotalin inhibited sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1) activity and induced pro-apoptotic ceramide production. Ceramide synthase-1 small hairpin RNA (shRNA)-depletion inhibited cinobufotalin-induced ceramide production and HCC cell apoptosis. On the other hand, the glucosylceramide synthase (GCS) inhibitor 1-phenyl-2-decanoylamino-3-morpholino-1-propanol (PDMP) facilitated cinobufotalin-induced ceramide production and cell apoptosis. SphK1 inhibitor II (SKI-II), similar to cinobufotalin, increased cellular ceramide level and promoted HCC cell apoptosis. Finally, we observed that cinobufotalin inactivated Akt-S6K1 signaling in HepG2 cells, which was again inhibited by ceramide synthase-1 shRNA-depletion. In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that cinobufotalin induces growth inhibition and apoptosis in cultured HCC cells through ceramide production. Cinobufotalin may be investigated as a novel anti-HCC agent.
KeywordsHepatocellular carcinoma Cinobufotalin Apoptosis SphK1 and ceramide
Ceramide synthase 1
Sphingosine kinase 1
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation.
Conflicts of interest
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