Targeting MEK is effective chemoprevention of hepatocellular carcinoma in TGF-α-transgenic mice

Sabrina C. Wentz, Huangbing Wu, Michele T. Yip-Schneider, Matthew Hennig, Patrick J. Klein, Judith Sebolt-Leopold, C. Max Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) causes 600,000 mortalities per year worldwide. Previous studies from our lab provide evidence for altered mitogen-activated protein kinase and extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK) signaling in HCC pathogenesis. We hypothesized that pharmacologic targeting of MEK may prevent HCC. Transforming growth factor-alpha-transgenic mice (CD1-MT42) exposed to diethylnitrosamine were randomized to 20 (trial I) or 35 (trial II) weeks of MEK inhibitor PD0325901 (1, 10 mg/kg) or control via orogastric gavage. Ten HCC (44%) formed in trial I controls versus 0 in treatment arms (p∈<∈0.05). Fourteen HCC (50%) formed in trial II controls versus 1 (9%) in treatment arms (p∈<∈0.05). Mean HCC volume was 578 mm3 in control versus 46 mm3 in the single tumor formed in trial II. In trial I, foci of altered hepatocytes (FAH) formed in 78% of control versus 40% and 0% (1 and 10 mg/kg PD0325901) in treatment arms (p∈<∈0.05). In trial II, incidence of FAH was 80% in control versus 20% and 50% (1 and 10 mg/kg PD0325901) in treatment arms (p∈<∈0.05). Hepatocyte expression of phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinase dose-dependently decreased in trial I but remained the same in trial II. Control and treated HCC demonstrated similar proliferation rates, but apoptosis appeared increased with treatment. MEK targeting is effective HCC chemoprevention, perhaps by lowering the apoptotic threshold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Chemoprevention
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Liver cancer
  • PD0325901

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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