Platycodin D reverses histone deacetylase inhibitor resistance in hepatocellular carcinoma cells by repressing ERK1/2-mediated cofilin-1 phosphorylation

Wei Chung Hsu, Samiraj Ramesh, Marthandam Asokan Shibu, Ming Cheng Chen, Tso Fu Wang, Cecilia Hsuan Day, Ray Jade Chen, V. Vijaya Padma, Chi Cheng Li, Yu Chen Tseng, Chih Yang Huang

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Chemoresistance remains the main obstacle in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) therapy. Despite significant advances in HCC therapy, HCC still has a poor prognosis. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify a treatment target to reverse HCC chemotherapy resistance. Platycodon grandiflorus (PG) is a perennial herb that has been used as food and traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years in Northeast Asia. Platycodin D (PD), a main active triterpenoid saponin found in the root of PG, has been reported to possess anticancer properties in several cancer cell lines, including HCC; however, the reversal effect of this molecule on HCC chemoresistance remains largely unknown. Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the role and the mechanism of PD-mediated reversal of the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) resistance in HCC cells. Methods: Human HCC cells (HA22T) and HDACi-resistant (HDACi-R) cells were used. Cell viability was measured using the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay. Combination index was used to calculate the synergism potential. Expression of ERK1/2 (total/phospho), cofilin-1 (total/phospho) and apoptosis-related protein was determined using western blotting. Mitochondrial membrane potential was assessed using the JC-1 (5,5′,6,6′-tetrachloro-1,1′,3,3′-tetraethylbenzimidazolocarbocyanine iodide) probe. Apoptosis was detected using the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling assay. Mitochondrial reactive oxygen species generation was measured using the MitoSOX Red fluorescent probe. Results: We found that PD treatment inhibited cell viability both in HA22T HCC and HDACi-R cells. Inhibition of ERK1/2 by PD98059 could reverse drug resistance in HDACi-R cells treated with PD98059 and PD. Nevertheless, pre-treatment with U46619, an ERK1/2 activator, rescued PD-induced apoptosis by decreasing levels of apoptosis-related proteins in HCC cells. The combined treatment of PD with apicidin a powerful HDACi, dramatically enhanced the apoptotic effect in HDACi-R cells. Conclusion: For the first time, we showed that PD reversed HDACi resistance in HCC by repressing ERK1/2-mediated cofilin-1 phosphorylation. Thus, PD can potentially be a treatment target to reverse HCC chemotherapy resistance in future therapeutic trials.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153442
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Apoptosis
  • HDAC inhibitor
  • HDACi resistance
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • p-CFL-1
  • Platycodin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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