Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma is cancer with many new cases and the highest mortality rate.
Chemotherapy is the most commonly used method for the clinical treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma. Natural
products have become clinically important chemotherapeutic drugs due to their great potential for pharmacological
development. Many sesquiterpene lactone compounds have been proven to have antitumor effects on hepatocellular
Objective: Britanin is a sesquiterpene lactone compound that can be considered for the treatment of hepatocellular
carcinoma. The present study aimed to investigate the antitumor effect of britanin.
Methods: BEL 7402 and HepG2 cells were used to study the cytotoxicity and antitumor effects of britanin. Preliminary
studies on the nuclear factor kappa B pathway were conducted by western blot analysis. A BEL 7402-luc subcutaneous
tumor model was established for the in vivo antitumor studies of britanin. In vivo bioluminescence imaging
was conducted to monitor changes in tumor size.
Results: The results of the cytotoxicity analysis showed that the IC50 values for britanin in BEL 7402 and HepG2
cells were 2.702μM and 6.006μM, respectively. The results of the colony formation demonstrated that the number of
cells in a colony was reduced significantly after britanin treatment. And the results of transwell migration assays
showed that the migration ability of tumor cells was significantly weakened after treatment with britanin. Tumor
size measurements and staining results showed that tumor size was inhibited after britanin treatment. The western
blot analysis results showed the inhibition of p65 protein expression and reduced the ratio of Bcl-2/Bax after
Conclusion: A series of in vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrated that britanin had good antitumor effects and
provided an option for hepatocellular carcinoma treatment.