Diffractaic acid exerts anti-cancer effects on hepatocellular carcinoma HepG2 cells by inducing apoptosis and suppressing migration through targeting thioredoxin reductase 1

Sulukoğlu E. K., Günaydın Ş., Kalın Ş. N., ALTAY A., BUDAK H.

Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00210-024-02980-5
  • Journal Name: Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's Archives of Pharmacology
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, BIOSIS, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, Chimica, Veterinary Science Database
  • Keywords: Cytotoxicity, Diffractaic acid, Expression, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Inhibition, Thioredoxin reductase 1
  • Erzincan Binali Yildirim University Affiliated: Yes


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represents one of the most common malignant tumors worldwide. Due to the limited number of available drugs and their side effects, the development of new chemotherapeutic strategies for HCC treatment has become increasingly important. This study is aimed at investigating whether diffractaic acid (DA), one of the secondary metabolites of lichen, exhibits a potential anticancer effect on HepG2 cells and whether its anticancer effect is mediated by inhibition of thioredoxin reductase 1 (TRXR1), which is a target of chemotherapeutic strategies due to overexpression in tumor cells including HCC. XTT assay results showed that DA exhibited strong cytotoxicity on HepG2 cells with an IC50 value of 78.07 µg/mL at 48 h. Flow cytometric analysis results revealed that DA displayed late apoptotic and necrotic effects on HepG2 cells. Consistent with these findings, real-time PCR results showed that DA did not alter the BAX/BCL2 ratio in HepG2 cells but upregulated the P53 gene. Moreover, the wound healing assay results revealed a strong anti-migratory effect of DA in HepG2 cells. Real-time PCR and Western blot analyses demonstrated that DA increased TRXR1 gene and protein expression levels, whereas enzyme activity studies disclosed that DA inhibited TRXR1. These findings suggest that DA has an anticancer effect on HepG2 cells by targeting the enzymatic inhibition of TRXR1. In conclusion, DA as a TRXR1 inhibitor can be considered an effective chemotherapeutic agent which may be a useful lead compound for the treatment of HCC.