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Environ Toxicol. 2015 Jan;30(1):74-82. doi: 10.1002/tox.21896. Epub 2013 Aug 16.

Bufalin inhibits migration and invasion in human hepatocellular carcinoma SK-Hep1 cells through the inhibitions of NF-kB and matrix metalloproteinase-2/-9-signaling pathways.

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Department of Chinese-Western Medicine Integration, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung, 402, Taiwan, ROC; School of Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, 402, Taiwan, ROC.


Metastasis plays an important role in mortality of cancer patients. Migration and invasion are the major characteristics of tumor metastasis. The induction of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) such as MMP-2 and -9 are particularly important for the invasiveness of various cancer cells. Bufalin, a class of toxic steroids, was purified from the skin glands of Bufo gargarizans or Bufo melanostictus; it is known to inhibit proliferation of human cancer cells. In this study, we investigated the antiinvasive mechanisms of bufalin in the human hepatocellular cancer cell line SK-Hep1. Bufalin significantly reduced serum-induced cell invasion and migration. Furthermore, bufalin markedly inhibited MMP-2 and -9 activity, mRNA expression and protein levels in SK-Hep1 cells. Bufalin attenuated phosphoinisitide-3-kinase (PI3K) and phosphorylation of AKT which was associated with reduced levels of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB). Bufalin also suppressed protein levels of FAK and Rho A, VEGF, MEKK3, MKK7, and uPA and it diminished NF-κB translocation. Based on these observations, we propose that bufalin is acts as an antiinvasive agent by inhibiting MMP-2 and -9 and involving PI3K/AKT and NF-κB pathways. Bufalin is a potential therapeutic agent that may have efficacy in preventing the invasion and metastasis of malignant liver tumors.


NF-κB; SK-Hep1; bufalin; matrix metalloproteinase-2/-9; migration

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