A small library of chalcones induce liver cancer cell death through Akt phosphorylation inhibition

Creative Commons License

Sahin I. D., Christodoulou M. S., Guzelcan E. A., Koyas A., KARACA Ç., Passarella D., ...More

SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, vol.10, no.1, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/s41598-020-68775-9
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) ranks as the fifth most common and the second deadliest cancer worldwide. HCC is extremely resistant to the conventional chemotherapeutics. Hence, it is vital to develop new treatment options. Chalcones were previously shown to have anticancer activities in other cancer types. In this study, 11 chalcones along with quercetin, papaverin, catechin, Sorafenib and 5FU were analyzed for their bioactivities on 6 HCC cell lines and on dental pulp stem cells (DPSC) which differentiates into hepatocytes, and is used as a model for untransformed control cells. 3 of the chalcones (1, 9 and 11) were selected for further investigation due to their high cytotoxicity against liver cancer cells and compared to the other clinically established compounds. Chalcones did not show significant bioactivity (IC50>20 mu M) on dental pulp stem cells. Cell cycle analysis revealed that these 3 chalcone-molecules induced SubG1/G1 arrest. Akt protein phosphorylation was inhibited by these molecules in PTEN deficient, drug resistant, mesenchymal like Mahlavu cells leading to the activation of p21 and the inhibition of NF kappa B-p65 transcription factor. Hence the chalcones induced apoptotic cell death pathway through NF kappa B-p65 inhibition. On the other hand, these molecules triggered p21 dependent activation of Rb protein and thereby inhibition of cell cycle and cell growth in liver cancer cells. Involvement of PI3K/Akt pathway hyperactivation was previously described in survival of liver cancer cells as carcinogenic event. Therefore, our results indicated that these chalcones can be considered as candidates for liver cancer therapeutics particularly when PI3K/Akt pathway involved in tumor development.