Combining Crocin and Sorafenib Improves Their Tumor-Inhibiting Effects in a Rat Model of Diethylnitrosamine-Induced Cirrhotic-Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Basma Awad, Alaaeldin Ahmed Hamza, Amna Al-Maktoum, Suhail Al-Salam, Amr Amin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most aggressive malignancies, with continuously increasing cases and fatalities. Diagnosis often occurs in the advanced stages, confining patients to systemic therapies such as sorafenib. Sorafenib (SB), a multi-kinase inhibitor, has not yet demonstrated sufficient efficacy against advanced HCC. There is a strong argument in favor of studying its use in combination with other medications to optimize the therapeutic results. According to our earlier work, crocin (CR), a key bioactive component of saffron, hinders HCC development and liver cancer stemness. In this study, we investigated the therapeutic use of CR or its combination with SB in a cirrhotic rat model of HCC and evaluated how effectively SB and CR inhibited tumor growth in this model. Diethylnitrosamine (DEN) was administered intraperitoneally to rats once a week for 15 weeks, leading to cirrhosis, and then 19 weeks later, leading to multifocal HCC. After 16 weeks of cancer induction, CR (200 mg/kg daily) and SB (10 mg/kg daily) were given orally to rats for three weeks, either separately or in combination. Consistently, the combination treatment considerably decreased the incidence of dyschromatic nodules, nodule multiplicity, and dysplastic nodules when compared to the HCC group of single therapies. Combined therapy also caused the highest degree of apoptosis, along with decreased proliferating and β-catenin levels in the tumor tissues. Additionally, when rats received combined therapy with CR, it showed anti-inflammatory characteristics where nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) and cyclooxygenase-2 (Cox-2) were considerably and additively lowered. As a result, CR potentiates the suppressive effects of SB on tumor growth and provides the opportunity to strengthen the therapeutic effects of SB in the treatment of HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4063
JournalCancers
Volume15
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Keywords

  • apoptosis
  • crocin
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • inflammation
  • sorafenib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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