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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2023, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (6): 575-583.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2023.10.002

• Original Experimental Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Aconite aqueous extract inhibits the growth of hepatocellular carcinoma through CCL2-dependent enhancement of natural killer cell infiltration

Kang-di Yang, Xu Zhang, Ming-cong Shao, Li-na Wang   

  1. Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Changhai Hospital, Naval Medical University, Shanghai 200433, China
  • Received:2022-09-22 Accepted:2022-12-19 Online:2023-12-08 Published:2023-12-12
  • Contact: Li-na Wang

Aconite is a traditional Chinese herbal medicine that has been found to inhibit the development of liver cancer; however, its exact molecular mechanisms in this process remain unclear. This study explores how aconite aqueous extract (AAE) inhibits hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

An in vivo mouse model of subcutaneous liver cancer was established. After AAE treatment, immunohistochemistry (IHC) was used to determine the effect of AAE on natural killer (NK) cells. Subsequently, C57BL/6 mice were used to establish the subcutaneous tumor model, and a group of these mice were treated with anti-PK163 antibody to remove NK cells, which was verified by flow cytometry and IHC. The effect of AAE on the proliferation of HCC cells in vitro was determined using cell counting kit-8. The effect of AAE on chemokine production in HCC cells was measured using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The effect of AAE on the migration of NK cells was determined using a transwell assay. Finally, the molecular mechanism was investigated using the Western blotting method.

We demonstrated that the ability of AAE to induce overexpression of the cytokine C–C motif chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) in HCC cells is fundamental to the infiltration of NK cells into the tumor bed. Mechanistically, we found that the upregulation of CCL2 was achieved by the activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase but not extracellular regulated protein kinase or p38.

Our findings suggest that AAE can be used as an effective immune adjuvant to enhance antitumor immunity by increasing NK cell infiltration into tumors, which could help to improve the efficacy of HCC treatments.

Key words: Aconite, Natural killer cell, Tumor infiltration, Chemokine CC chemokine ligand 2, Hepatoma

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