Acquired tolerance of hepatocellular carcinoma cells to selenium-deficiency : a selective survival mechanism
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Selenium-deficiency causes liver necrosis. Selenium is protective against viral hepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The underlying molecular mechanisms of selenium effects are ill-known. In this study in vitro response of hepatocellular carcinoma-derived cell lines to selenium-deficiency is examined alone or in conjunction with Vitamin E and Copper/Zinc. Here we show that in vitro selenium-deficiency in a subset HCC-derived ‘hepatocyte-like’ cell lines causes oxidative stress and apoptosis. The oxidative stress and consequent cell death induced by selenium-deficiency on these cells are reverted by the antioxidant effect of Vitamin E. However, ten among thirteen HCC cell lines are tolerant to selenium-deficiency and escape its deadly consequences. Nine of ten tolerant cell lines have integrated hepatitis B Virus (HBV) DNA in their genomes, and some display p53-249 mutation, indicating past exposure to HBV or aflatoxins, established factors for oxidative stress and cancer risk. Thus, as demonstrated by the gain of survival capacity of apoptosis sensitive cell lines with Vitamin E, such malignant cells have acquired a selective survival advantage that is prominent under selenium-deficient and oxidative stress conditions.