Post-radiotherapy recurrence and metastasis of liver cancer were thought to arise from the invasion and metastasis of residual hepatocellular carcinoma cells, but it has now been shown to be closely related to the increased metastatic potential of residual liver cancer cells mediated by radiotherapy. The changes of liver microenvironment after radiotherapy also provide a favorable condition for promoting the metastatic potential of hepatocellular carcinoma. Studies have shown that radiation-induced activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) is one of the main changes in the microenvironment of hepatocellular carcinoma. Therefore, we hypothesized that activated HSCs are involved in regulating the metastatic capacity of residual cancer cells after radiotherapy. The present study observed that 48 h co-culture of three human hepatoma cell lines (MHCC97-L, Hep-3B, LM3) with a irradiated human HSC line (LX-2) in a transwell chamber could significantly improve the invasion of the human hepatoma cells; and the culture supernatant of activated HSCs could also enhance the invasion of the hepatoma cells. In contrast, co-culture with irradiated hepatoma cells enhanced the invasion of LX-2 cells. In vitro, irradiation enhanced the activation phenotype and the toll like receptor 4 (TLR4) signaling pathway of LX-2 cells or primary mouse HSCs, which upregulated intercellular cell adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM1), laminin receptor (67 LR), Interleukin- 6 (IL-6), and CX3C chemokine ligand 1 (CX3CL1) and downregulated toll-interacting proteins. The compound (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) inhibited signal transduction of activated TLR4 and radiation-induced invasion of LX-2 cells by binding to 67 LR. These observations indicated that the enhancement of the metastatic potential of hepatoma cells after irradiation was relevant to the activation of HSCs, and the activation of TLR4 signaling pathway was involved in this process, which was inhibited by EGCG. Our results will help enhance the therapeutic efficacy of liver cancer stereotactic body radiation therapy to prevent and decrease the risks of post-radiotherapy recurrence and metastasis.
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Vol. 197 • No. 4