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PLoS One. 2011;6(10):e26500. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026500. Epub 2011 Oct 28.

Expression of p53 in the effects of artesunate on induction of apoptosis and inhibition of proliferation in rat primary hepatic stellate cells.

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Department of Pharmacology, Tianjin Medical University, TianJin, China.



Activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) plays an important role in the development of cirrhosis through the increased production of collagen. p53, the "guardian of the genome", is a transcription factor that can bind to promoter regions of hundreds of genes where it either activates or suppresses gene expression. Thereby, p53 serves as a tumor suppressor by inducing cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, senescence and DNA repair. Artesunate is a derivative of Artemisinin, Scholars had found it had more extensive pharmacological effects past 10 years. However, little is known about the expression of p53 in the effects of Artesunate on induction of apoptosis and inhibition of proliferation in rat HSCs.


Isolated and cultured rat primary HSCs in the flask for 10 days to make cells activated. HSCs were divided into two groups: experimental groups and control groups, experimental groups included with various concentrations of Artesunate (125, 150, 175, 200, 225 µmol/L) for 24, 48 and 72 hours. Analysis of MTT revealed that activated HSCs treated with various concentrations of Artesunate (150-225 µmol/L) were inhibited on dose and time-effect relationships; Concentration of hydroxyproline in supernatant was detected by digestive method; Analysis of flow cytometry demonstrated that Artesunate could arrest cell cycle in G1 and induce apoptosis; The nuclear morphological changes in apoptotic cells were evaluated with DNA staining by Hoechst 33258 dye; The expression of p53 were up-regulated showed by western blotting and RT-PCR.


Artesunate could inhibit HSCs proliferation in dose-dependent and time-dependent manners in vitro through increase the expression of p53.

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