Chalcone-induced apoptosis through caspase-dependent intrinsic pathways in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells

Rodrigo Ramirez-Tagle, Carlos A. Escobar, Valentina Romero, Ignacio Montorfano, Ricardo Armisén, Vincenzo Borgna, Emanuel Jeldes, Luis Pizarro, Felipe Simon, Cesar Echeverria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers worldwide. Chemoprevention of HCC can be achieved through the use of natural or synthetic compounds that reverse, suppress or prevent the development of cancer progression. In this study, we investigated the antiproliferative effects and the mechanism of action of two compounds, 2,3,4′-trimethoxy-2′-hydroxy-chalcone (CH1) and 3′-bromo-3,4-dimethoxy-chalcone (CH2), over human hepatoma cells (HepG2 and Huh-7) and cultured mouse hepatocytes (HepM). Cytotoxic effects were observed over the HepG2 and Huh-7, and no effects were observed over the HepM. For HepG2 cells, treated separately with each chalcone, typical apoptotic laddering and nuclear condensation were observed. Additionally, the caspases and Bcl-2 family proteins activation by using Western blotting and immunocytochemistry were studied. Caspase-8 was not activated, but caspase-3 and -9 were both activated by chalcones in HepG2 cells. Chalcones also induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation after 4, 8 and 24 h of treatment in HepG2 cells. These results suggest that apoptosis in HepG2 was induced through: (i) a caspase-dependent intrinsic pathway; and (ii) by alterations in the cellular levels of Bcl-2 family proteins, and also, that the chalcone moiety could be a potent candidate as novel anticancer agents acting on human hepatomas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number260
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2016


  • Caspase
  • Chalcone
  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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