Involvement of the NF-κB pathway in multidrug resistance induced by HBx in a hepatoma cell line

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SUMMARY.It is widely believed that hepatocellular cancer (HCC), especially HBV associated HCC, is highly resistant to chemotherapy. To investigate the molecular influence of HBx protein on multidrug resistance (MDR) in HCC and the potential role of the NF-κB pathway in this process. We established HBx-expressing cells by liposome-mediated transfection of the HBx into the HepG2 cell line. We found that HBx expression in HCC cells induces drug resistance against multiple drugs, a significantly lower apoptosis ratio in HepG2-HBx and HepG2.2.15 cells, compared with HepG2 and HepG2-3.1 cells (P < 0.05) after treating with 5-FU or adriamycin. And compared with the control group, the HBx-transfected cells showed a higher expression of MDR-associated and anti-apoptotic genes. Furthermore, we found that the NF-κB activity was remarkably high in the HBx-expressing cells as measured by p65 nuclear localization. In addition, the upregulated anti-apoptotic genes, Gadd45b and Survivin, in HBx-expressing HCC cells were downregulated by IMD-0354 treatment, which is the NF-κB pathway inhibitor. Taken together, these results suggest that HBx protein might be one of the causes for the occurrence of MDR in HCC, and the NF-κB pathway might be involved in this change.

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