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Sodium butyrate inhibits aerobic glycolysis of hepatocellular carcinoma cells via the c-myc/hexokinase 2 pathway

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"Aerobic glycolysis is a well-known hallmark of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Hence, targeting the key enzymes of this pathway is considered a novel approach to HCC treatment. The effects of sodium butyrate (NaBu), a sodium salt of the short-chain fatty acid butyrate, on aerobic glycolysis in HCC cells and the underlying mechanism are unknown. In the present study, data obtained from cell lines with mouse xenograft model revealed that NaBu inhibited aerobic glycolysis in the HCC cells in vivo and in vitro. NaBu induced apoptosis while inhibiting the proliferation of the HCC cells in vivo and in vitro. Furthermore, the compound inhibited the release of lactate and glucose consumption in the HCC cells in vitro and inhibited the production of lactate in vivo. The modulatory effects of NaBu on glycolysis, proliferation and apoptosis were related to its modulation of hexokinase 2 (HK2). NaBu downregulated HK2 expression via c-myc signalling. The upregulation of glycolysis in the HCC cells induced by sorafenib was impeded by NaBu, thereby enhancing the anti-HCC effect of sorafenib in vitro and in vivo. Thus, NaBu inhibits the expression of HK2 to downregulate aerobic glycolysis and the proliferation of HCC cells and induces their apoptosis via the c-myc pathway."

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