Weizhong Wu

Fudan University, Shanghai, Shanghai Shi, China

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Publications (6)22.16 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Matrix stiffness as a novel regulation factor involves in modulating the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) invasion or metastasis. However, the mechanism by which matrix stiffness modulates HCC angiogenesis remains unknown. Here, using Buffalo rat HCC models with different liver matrix stiffness backgrounds and an in vitro cell culture system of mechanically tunable Collagen1 (COL1)-coated polyacrylamide gel, we investigated the effects of different matrix stiffness levels on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression in HCC cells and explored its regulatory mechanism for controlling HCC angiogenesis. Tissue microarray analysis showed that the expression levels of VEGF and CD31 were gradually upregulated in tumor tissues with increasing COL1 and lysyl oxidase (LOX) expression, indicating a positive correlation between tumor angiogenesis and matrix rigidity. The expression of VEGF and the phosphorylation levels of PI3K and Akt were all upregulated in HCC cells on high-stiffness gel than on low-stiffness gel. Meanwhile, alteration of intergrin β1 expression was found to be the most distinctive, implying that it might mediate the response of HCC cells to matrix stiffness simulation. After integrin β1 was blocked in HCC cells using specific monoclonal antibody, the expression of VEGF and the phosphorylation levels of PI3K and Akt at different culture times were accordingly suppressed and downregulated in the treatment group as compared with those in the control group. All data suggested that the extracellular matrix stiffness stimulation signal was transduced into HCC cells via integrin β1, and this signal activated the PI3K/Akt pathway and upregulated VEGF expression. This study unveils a new paradigm in which matrix stiffness as initiators to modulate HCC angiogenesis.
    Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 01/2014; · 2.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, a phase II clinical trial in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has suggested that the combination of sorafenib and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is feasible and side effects are manageable. However, preclinical experimental data explaining the interaction mechanism(s) are lacking. Our objective is to investigate the anticancer efficacy and mechanism of combined sorafenib and 5-FU therapy in vitro in HCC cell lines MHCC97H and SMMC-7721. Drug effects on cell proliferation were evaluated by cell viability assays. Combined-effects analyses were conducted according to the median-effect principle. Cell cycle distribution was measured by flow cytometry. Expression levels of proteins related to the RAF/MEK/ERK and STAT3 pathways and to cell cycle progression (cyclin D1) were determined by western blot analysis. Sorafenib and 5-FU alone or in combination showed significant efficacy in inhibiting cell proliferation in both cell lines tested. However, a schedule-dependent combined effect, associated with the order of compound treatments, was observed. Efficacy was synergistic with 5-FU pretreatment followed by sorafenib, but it was antagonist with the reverse treatment order. Sorafenib pretreatment resulted in a significant increase in the half inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 5-FU in both cell lines. Sorafenib induced G1-phase arrest and significantly decreased the proportion of cells in S phase when administrated alone or followed by 5-FU. The RAF/MEK/ERK and STAT3 pathways were blocked and cyclin D1 expression was down regulated significantly in both cell lines by sorafenib; whereas, the kinase pathways were hardly affected by 5-FU, and cyclin D1 expression was up regulated. Antitumor activity of sorafenib and 5-FU, alone or in combination, is seen in HCC cell lines. The nature of the combined effects, however, depends on the particular cell line and treatment order of the two compounds. Sorafenib appears to reduce sensitivity to 5-FU through down regulation of cyclin D1 expression by inhibiting RAF/MEK/ERK and STAT3 signaling, resulting in G1-phase arrest and reduction of the S-phase cell subpopulation when 5-FU is administrated after sorafenib, in which situation, combination treatment of the two agents results in antagonism; on the other hand, when sorafenib is administrated afterward, it can continue to work since it is not cell cycle specific, as a result, combination treatment of the two agents shows an additive-to-synergistic effect.
    BMC Cancer 07/2013; 13(1):363. · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Postoperative interferon-alpha(IFN-alpha) treatment delays hepatocellular carcinoma(HCC) recurrence and prolongs patient survival, and may thus be an effective form of adjuvant therapy. However, clinical observations found that HCC recurs in some patients within 8 months of IFN-alpha treatment being discontinued. We investigated whether HCC regrowth appears after IFN-alpha is discontinued, whether re-initiated IFN-alpha is effective, and the underlying mechanisms of IFN-alpha treatment. METHODS: The human HCC nude mouse model LCI-D20 was used to study the effects of IFN-alpha treatment, discontinued IFN-alpha treatment, and re-initiated IFN-alpha treatment on tumor growth. Tumor weight, microvessel density(MVD), serum vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and tumor cell apoptosis were analyzed. Angiogenesis-related factors were studied using cDNA microarray in different tumor samples and confirmed using reverse transcription--polymerase chain reaction(RT-PCR) and Western blotting assays. Finally, imatinib was added with re-initiated IFN-alpha treatment to improve efficacy. RESULTS: IFN-alpha (1.5x107 U/kg/day for 20 days) suppressed HCC growth by 60.3% and decreased MVD by 52.2% compared with the control. However, tumor regrowth occurred after IFN-alpha was discontinued, and re-initiated IFN-alpha treatment was not effective for inhibiting tumor growth or reducing MVD compared with a saline-treated group. cDNA microarray showed VEGF was down-regulated while platelet-derived growth factor-A (PDGF-A) was up-regulated when IFN-alpha treatment was re-initiated. These findings were further confirmed with RT-PCR and Western blotting assay. The combination of imatinib with re-initiated IFN-alpha reduced HCC weight by 30.7% and decreased MVD by 31.1% compared with IFN-alpha treatment only (P=0.003 and 0.015, respectively). CONCLUSION: Tumor regrowth occurred after IFN-alpha treatment was discontinued. Re-initiated IFN-alpha treatment was not effective and was associated with up-regulation of PDGF-A, while the VEGF remained suppressed. The combination of a PDGF-receptor inhibitor with IFN-alpha improved the effect of the re-initiated treatment.
    BMC Cancer 10/2012; 12(1):439. · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third most common cause of cancer mortality. Metastasis is the major concern that causes death in HCC. The goal of this study was to identify tumor-derived proteins in serum during HCC metastasis using an orthotopic xenograft tumor model and explore the role of key protein in HCC metastasis. Serum samples collected from HCCLM3-R metastatic HCC tumor model at specific stages of metastasis (1 wk, 3 wks and 6 wks) were subjected to iTRAQ labeling followed by 2DLC-ESI-MS/MS analysis. Twenty tumor-derived proteins were identified through human specific peptides. Secretory clusterin (sCLU), which was significantly upregulated during cancer progression and metastasis, was chosen for further study. The expression of sCLU was significantly higher in metastatic HCC cell lines and samples from metastatic HCC patients. ShRNA-mediated down-regulation of sCLU resulted in a reduced migratory capacity in HCC cell lines, as well as a reduction in pulmonary metastasis in vivo. Overexpression of sCLU in HepG2 cell line showed increased cell migratory ability. Further study found that sCLU contributed to HCC migration and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in vitro, and metastasis in vivo. In addition, sCLU also plays an important role in the regulation of TGF-β1-smad3 signaling. These findings suggest that sCLU may promote HCC metastasis via the induction of EMT process and may be a candidate target for HCC therapy.
    The international journal of biochemistry & cell biology 09/2012; 44(12):2308-2320. · 4.89 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Despite recent advances in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the chemotherapy efficacy against HCC is still unsatisfactory. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) has been emerged as an important cancer therapeutic target. However, HCC cells often resistant to rapamycin because of the paradoxical activation of Akt by rapamycin. In this study, we investigated whether bortezomib could enhance the antitumor effects of rapamycin. The effects of rapamycin and bortezomib on HCC proliferation, apoptosis, migration, and invasiveness in vitro were assessed by CCK-8 analysis, flow cytometry, Hoechst 33342 staining and transwell assays, respectively. Total and phosphorylated protein levels of Akt were detected by Western blotting. The effects of rapamycin and/or bortezomib on the mRNA expression levels of p53, p27, p21 and Bcl-2 family in HCCLM3 cells were evaluated by RT-PCR. The roles of rapamycin and bortezomib on HCC growth and metastasis in xenograft models were evaluated by tumor volumes and fluorescent signals. The effects of rapamycin and bortezomib on cell proliferation and apoptosis in vivo were test by PCNA and TUNEL staining. Bortezomib synergized with rapamycin to reduce cell growth, induce apoptosis, and inhibit cell mobility in vitro. Further mechanistic studies showed that bortezomib inhibited rapamycin-induced phosphorylated Akt, which in turn enhanced apoptosis of HCC cell lines. The alteration of the mRNA expression of cell cycle inhibitors p53, p27, p21 and apoptosis associated genes Bcl-2, Bax were also involved in the synergistic antitumor effects of rapamycin and bortezomib. P53 inhibitor PFT-α significantly attenuate the effect of rapamycin and bortezomib on cell apoptosis, which indicated that the pro-apoptotic effect of rapamycin and bortezomib may be p53-dependent. Treatment of HCCLM3-R bearing nude mice with rapamycin and bortezomib significantly enhanced tumor growth inhibition (72.4%), comparing with either rapamycin- (54.7%) or bortezomib-treated mice (22.4%). In addition, the lung metastasis was significantly suppressed in mice received the combination treatment (16.6%). The combination treatment of rapamycin and bortezomib significantly inhibited tumor cell proliferation and tumor angiogenesis in vivo. The combination of rapamycin with bortezomib could be a novel and promising therapeutic approach to the treatment of HCC.
    BMC Cancer 05/2012; 12:166. · 3.33 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of serious disorders with the highest morbidities and mortalities worldwide. Metastasis is the major concern that causes death in HCC. The goal of this study was to screen and identify potential serum proteins indicating HCC metastasis. Serum samples collected from control and HCCLM3-R metastatic HCC tumor model at specific stages of metastasis (1 wk, 3 wks and 6 wks) were subjected to iTRAQ labeling followed by 2DLC-ESI-MS/MS analysis. A total of 554 proteins were identified and 80 proteins were differential expressed at least between one adjacent time points. Among them, expression level of transaldolase (TALDO) was validated in mouse and human serum. The level of TALDO protein was found to be higher in metastatic mice serum compared to that of non-metastatic mice. Human specific TALDO was then identified in mouse serum through human specific peptides. Immunohistochemical and western blot analysis showed that the expression of TALDO in human HCC tissues and HCC cell lines was associated with its metastatic behavior. Subsequent screening of TALDO expression in 72 clinical serum samples (comprising 36 non-metastatic HCC and 36 metastatic HCC samples) revealed higher TALDO level in the serum of metastatic HCC patients. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve estimated a maximal sensitivity of 77.8% and 86.1% specificity for TALDO in detection of HCC metastasis. The present results demonstrated that the nude mouse xenograft model is an efficient system for performing metastasis-related biomarker discovery. TALDO may be useful biomarkers for the detection of HCC metastasis.
    Cancer letters 12/2011; 313(2):154-66. · 4.86 Impact Factor