Metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is usually unrecognized before any pathological examination, resulting in time-taking treatment and poor prognosis. As a consequence, HCC patients usually show symptoms of depression. In order to suppress such psychiatric disorders and to facilitate better treatment outcome, antidepressants are prescribed. Up to present, information about the effect of antidepressants on HCC is still lacking. Therefore, we chose fluoxetine (FXT), one of the top five psychiatric prescriptions in the United States, together with the HepG2 cell model to explore its effect on HCC. Our study found that FXT (5 µM) increased the migratory distance of HepG2 cells by a factor of nearly 1.7 compared to control. In addition, our study also investigated the effect of genipin (GNP), which is an active compound from Gardenia jasminoides Ellis fruit (family Rubiaceae), on the FXT-induced HepG2 cells. Our study found that 30 and 60 µM GNP reduced the migratory distance by 42% and 74% respectively, compared to FXT treatment alone. Furthermore, we also found that FXT upregulated matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) genes, increased the protein expression of MMPs, urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA), nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-kB), activator protein 1 (AP-1), phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinase (P-p38), phosphorylated protein kinase B (P-Akt), downregulated tissue inhibitor metalloproteinases (TIMPs) genes and decreased the TIMPs proteins expression whereas, GNP fully counteracted the action of FXT. Conclusively, this study has provided valuable information regarding the possible molecular mechanisms through which FXT affects the metastatic invasiveness of HepG2 cells and evidences to support that GNP counteracts such effect via the same molecular mechanisms.
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