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Isomalto oligosaccharide sulfate inhibits tumor growth and metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma in nude mice

Chun-Li Xiao1, Zhong-Hua Tao1, Lin Guo2, Wei-Wei Li1, Jin-Liang Wan1, Hui-Chuan Sun1, Lu Wang1, Zhao-You Tang13, Jia Fan13 and Wei-Zhong Wu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Liver Cancer Institute and Zhongshan Hospital, Fudan University, Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Cancer Invasion, Ministry of Education, Shanghai 200032, China

2 Department of Clinical Laboratory, Cancer Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China

3 Institute of Biomedical Sciences of Fudan University, Shanghai 200032, China

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:150  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-150

Published: 22 April 2011



Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) usually has a dismal prognosis because of its limited response to current pharmacotherapy and high metastatic rate. Sulfated oligosaccharide has been confirmed as having potent antitumor activities against solid tumors. Here, we explored the preclinical effects and molecular mechanisms of isomalto oligosaccharide sulfate (IMOS), another novel sulfated oligosaccharide, in HCC cell lines and a xenograft model.


The effects of IMOS on HCC proliferation, apoptosis, adhesion, migration, and invasiveness in vitro were assessed by cell counting, flow cytometry, adhesion, wound healing, and transwell assays, respectively. The roles of IMOS on HCC growth and metastasis in xenograft models were evaluated by tumor volumes and fluorescent signals. Total and phosphorylated protein levels of AKT, ERK, and JNK as well as total levels of c-MET were detected by Western blotting. IMOS-regulated genes were screened by quantitative reverse-transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) array in HCCLM3-red fluorescent protein (RFP) xenograft tissues and then confirmed by qRT-PCR in HepG2 and Hep3B cells.


IMOS markedly inhibited cell proliferation and induced cell apoptosis of HCCLM3, HepG2, and Bel-7402 cells and also significantly suppressed cell adhesion, migration, and invasion of HCCLM3 in vitro. At doses of 60 and 90 mg/kg/d, IMOS displayed robust inhibitory effects on HCC growth and metastasis without obvious side effects in vivo. The levels of pERK, tERK, and pJNK as well as c-MET were significantly down-regulated after treatment with 16 mg/mL IMOS. No obvious changes were found in the levels of pAkt, tAkt, and tJNK. Ten differentially expressed genes were screened from HCCLM3-RFP xenograft tissues after treatment with IMOS at a dose of 90 mg/kg/d. Similar gene expression profiles were confirmed in HepG2 and Hep3B cells after treatment with 16 mg/mL IMOS.


IMOS is a potential anti-HCC candidate through inhibition of ERK and JNK signaling independent of p53 and worth studying further in patients with HCC, especially at advanced stages.

Isomalto oligosaccharide sulfate; hepatocellular carcinoma; proliferation; metastasis; apoptosis