Liver cancer is the sixth in incidence and is the third cause of cancer mortality worldwide. The most common histological type is the hepatocarcinoma or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which corresponds to 80% of the cases. This type of neoplasm is characterized by neovascularization and by a high propensity to vein invasion, which is highly related to disease progression and prognosis. The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is under the control of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alfa (HIF-1alfa), specifically stimulates the proliferation of endothelial cells and increases the permeability cell, promoting growth, tumor metastasis and dissemination. Melatonin, the principal hormone secreted by the pineal gland, may have an important role in tumor suppression by inhibiting VEGF mediated angiogenesis and / or HIF-1±. Recent studies have shown that melatonin inhibits cell proliferation and increases apoptosis in HepG2 hepatocarcinoma cell line, besides to reduce the plasma concentration of VEGF in patients with HCC. Thus, this project aims to investigate the expression of pro-angiogenic proteins, VEGF and HIF-1alfa and of pro-apoptotic protein, caspase 3 in cell line HepG2 liver cancer after treatment with melatonin. The results from this study will investigate the potential benefit of the use of melatonin as a therapeutic agent in the treatment of liver cancer, contributing to the growth control and tumor invasion.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: