Deactivation of Akt and STAT3 signaling promotes apoptosis, inhibits proliferation, and enhances the sensitivity of hepatocellular carcinoma cells to an anticancer agent, Atiprimod.


Atiprimod is a novel anticancer and antiangiogenic drug candidate which is currently being evaluated in patients with liver carcinoid and multiple myeloma. In this study, we report that atiprimod selectively inhibited proliferation and induced apoptosis in HCC cells that expressed either hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus, through deactivation of protein kinase B (Akt) and signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling. In HepG2 AD38 cells, which express HBV genome under the control of a tetracycline-off promoter, both Akt and STAT3 were constitutively activated in response to HBV expression. However, this constitutive activation was not sensitive to lamivudine, a drug that inhibits HBV replication without affecting its gene expression, suggesting that HBV replication per se might not be responsible for the activation. Interestingly, the electrophoretic mobility of p-STAT3 protein bands on immunoblot was slower when AD38 cells were cultured in the absence of tetracycline, suggesting a differential phosphorylation in response to HBV expression. In HCC cells, interleukin 6 stimulates the phosphorylation of STAT3 both at serine 727 and at tyrosine 705 positions. The interleukin 6-stimulated activation of STAT3 and Akt was inhibited not only by atiprimod but also by LY294002, a phosphoinositide-3-kinase-specific inhibitor, and by NS398, a cyclooxygenase-2-selective inhibitor. The combination of these compounds did not produce any additive effect, implying that the mechanisms by which HBV activates Akt and STAT3 might also involve phosphoinositide-3-kinase and cyclooxygenase-2. Collectively, these results suggest that atiprimod could be useful as a multifunctional drug candidate for the treatment of HCC in humans.

  • Block T
  • Choudhari SR
  • Harris G
  • Jacob GS
  • Khan MA
  • Picker D
  • Shailubhai K
PubMed ID
Appears In
Mol Cancer Ther, 2007, 6 (1)