The aim of the present study was to investigate the antitumor effect and mechanism of action of hyperforin in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) SK-Hep1 cells in vitro. Cells were treated with different concentrations of hyperforin for different periods of time. Effects of hyperforin on cell viability, apoptosis signaling, and expression of anti-apoptotic and proliferative proteins [cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (c-FLIP), X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP), myeloid cell leukemia 1(MCL1), and cyclin-D1] were investigated by 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay, flow cytometry, and western blotting. Hyperforin significantly inhibited cell viability and expression of anti-apoptotic and proliferative proteins. We also found that hyperforin significantly induced accumulation of cells in sub-G1 phase, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and increased levels of active caspase-3, and caspase-8. Taken together, our findings indicate that hyperforin triggers inhibition of tumor cell growth by inducing intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways in HCC SK-Hep1 cells.
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