A very low toxic agent induces apoptosis and reduces growth of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells

Guido Schumacher, Sylvia Scheunert, Anne Rueggeberg, Max G. Bachem, Andreas K. Nussler, Antonino Spinelli, Tapas Mukhopadhyay, Johann Pratschke, Peter Neuhaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To examine the efficacy on growth inhibition of 2-methoxyestradiol (2-ME) on human hepatocellular carcinoma in vitro. Methods: Hep3B, SK-Hep1, and PLC/PRF/5 cells were used. Proliferation assays using 2-ME should show a dose-dependent reduction of cell number. Different staining methods in cells derived from human hepatocellular carcinoma and normal human hepatocytes were performed to demonstrate possible tumor specific induction of apoptosis. FACS-analysis was done to confirm the induction of apoptosis after treatment with 2-ME. Results: A reduction of the cell number of 90-98% was observed in all cancer cells after treatment with 2 μmol 2-ME. The mechanism of action appeared to be induction of apoptosis. Normal human hepatocytes were unaffected by 2-ME. The most sensitive cell line to 2-ME, SK-Hep1, showed an up-regulation of the p53 and p21 proteins. Conclusions: 2-Methoxyestradiol appears to be highly effective in reducing tumor growth in vitro in human hepatocellular carcinoma. It may be tumor specific and applicable for clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1207-1212
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • 2-methoxyestradiol
  • Apoptosis
  • Hep3B
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Hepatocytes
  • PLC/PRF/5
  • SK-Hep1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Hepatology


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