Aberrant activation of the Notch signaling pathway is implicated in many solid tumors, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), indicating a potential use of Notch inhibitors for treatment. In this study, we investigated the antitumor and antimetastasis efficacy of the novel Notch inhibitor (γ-secretase inhibitor) PF-03084014 in HCC. HCC spherical cells (stem-like cancer cells), a sphere-derived orthotopic tumor model and one patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model were used in our experiment. We demonstrated that PF-03084014 inhibited the self-renewal and proliferation of cancer stem cells. PF-03084014 reduced the HCC sphere-derived orthotopic tumor and blocked the HCC tumor liver to lung metastasis. We further tested the PF-03084014 in PDX models and confirmed the inhibition tumor growth effect. In addition, a low dose of PF-03084014 induced HCC sphere differentiation, resulting in chemosensitization. Antitumor activity was associated with PF-03084014-induced suppression of Notch1 activity, decreased Stat3 activation and phosphorylation of the Akt signaling pathway, and reduced epithelial-mesenchymal transition. These are the key contributors to the maintenance of cancer stemness and the promotion of cancer metastasis. Moreover, the Notch-Stat3 association was implicated in the clinical HCC prognosis. Collectively, PF-03084014 revealed antitumor and antimetastatic effects in hepatocellular carcinoma, providing evidence for the potential use of GSIs as a therapeutic option for the treatment of HCC.
- Received January 3, 2017.
- Revision received March 29, 2017.
- Accepted May 1, 2017.
- Copyright ©2017, American Association for Cancer Research.