Tumor Biology

, Volume 37, Issue 8, pp 10085–10096 | Cite as

A novel anti-alpha-fetoprotein single-chain variable fragment displays anti-tumor effects in HepG2 cells as a single agent or in combination with paclitaxel

  • Xiaonan Ji
  • Yanli Shen
  • Hao Sun
  • Xiangdong Gao
Original Article


Human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has a high rate of tumor recurrence and metastasis, resulting in shortened survival time. The function of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) as a regulatory factor in the growth of HCC cells has been well defined. The aim of this study was to investigate the use of a novel AFP-specific single-chain variable fragment that blocked AFP and inhibited HCC cell growth. The results indicated that the anti-AFP single-chain variable fragment (scFv) induced growth inhibition of AFP-expressing HCC cell lines in vitro through induction of G1 cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. The mechanism of apoptosis probably involved with blocking AFP internalization and regulation of the PTEN/PI3K/Akt signaling network. Moreover, the anti-AFP-scFv also effectively sensitized the HepG2 cells to paclitaxel (PTX) at a lower concentration. The combination effect of PTX and anti-AFP-scFv displayed a synergistic effect on HepG2 cells both in vitro and in vivo. Our results demonstrated that targeting AFP by specific antibodies has potential immunotherapeutic efficacy in human HCC.


Hepatocellular carcinoma Alpha-fetoprotein Single-chain variable fragment Apoptosis Cell cycle arrest 



This work was supported by the Chinese Universities Scientific Fund (ZJ13083), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (YD2014SK0002), and a project funded by the Priority Academic Program Development (PAPD) of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaonan Ji
    • 1
  • Yanli Shen
    • 2
  • Hao Sun
    • 1
  • Xiangdong Gao
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Life Science and TechnologyChina Pharmaceutical UniversityNanjingChina
  2. 2.The People’s Hospital of PizhouXuzhouChina

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