Oleuropein potentiates anti-tumor activity of cisplatin against HepG2 through affecting proNGF/NGF balance

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AimsOleuropein is considered as a new chemotherapeutic agent in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) while, its exact underlying molecular mechanism still not yet explored. In addition, cisplatin is a standard anticancer drug against solid tumors with toxic side effects. Therefore, we conducted this study to assess antitumor activity of oleuropein either alone or in combination with cisplatin against HepG2, human HCC cell lines, via targeting pro-NGF/NGF signaling pathway.Main methodsHepG2 cells were treated with cisplatin (20, 50, 100 μM) and oleuropein (100, 200, 300 and 400 μM) as well as some of the cells were treated with 50 μM cisplatin and different concentrations of oleuropein. Gene expressions of nerve growth factor (NGF), matrix metalloproteinase-7 (MMP-7) and caspase-3 were evaluated by real time-PCR. In addition, protein levels of NGF and pro-form of NGF (pro-NGF) were measured by ELISA while, nitric oxide (NO) content was determined colorimetrically.Key findingsCisplatin treatment showed a significant elevation of NO content and pro-NGF protein level with a marked reduction of NGF protein level in addition to the upregulation of caspase-3 along with downregulation of MMP-7 gene expressions in a dose-dependent manner. However, the combination of 50 μM cisplatin and 200 μM oleuropein showed the most potent effect on the molecular level when compared with oleuropein or cisplatin alone.SignificanceOur results showed for the first time that the anti-tumor activity of oleuropein against HCC could be attributed to influencing the pro-NGF/NGF balance via affecting MMP-7 activity without affecting the gene expression of NGF. Concurrent treatment with both oleuropein and cisplatin could lead to more effective chemotherapeutic combination against HCC.Graphical abstract

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