The poor prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been attributed to a high frequency of tumor metastasis and recurrence even after successful surgical resection. With less than 30% of patients benefiting from curative treatment, alternative treatment regimens for patients with advanced HCC are needed. Propyl gallate (PG), a synthetic antioxidant used in preserving food and medicinal preparations, has been shown to induce cancer cell death, but the anticancer effects of PG in HCC are unclear. In the present study, we demonstrated that PG inhibited HCC cell proliferation in vitro and in zebrafish models in vivo in a dose- and time-dependent manner. PG also induced cell apoptosis and increased the number of necrotic cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner as determined using a high-content analysis system. We found that PG also increased the intracellular levels of superoxide and reactive oxidative stress as well as the formation of autophagosomes and lysosomes. Regarding the molecular mechanism, PG did not alter the levels of autophagy-related 5 (ATG5), ATG5/12 or Beclin-1 but increased the rate of the LC3-I to LC3-II conversion, suggesting autophagy induction. PG exposure increased the levels of the pro-apoptotic proteins cleaved caspase-3, cleaved PARP, Bax, and Bad and a decreased level of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2. In conclusion, we demonstrate that PG inhibits HCC cell proliferation through enhanced ROS production and autophagy activation. Finally, PG-treated cells induced cell apoptosis and may be a new candidate for HCC therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0210513
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Propyl gallate inhibits hepatocellular carcinoma cell growth through the induction of ROS and the activation of autophagy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this