Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Devanand Sarkar


Title of Dissertation: FUNCTION OF INSULIN-LIKE GROWTH FACTOR BINDING PROTEIN 7(IGFBP7) IN HEPATOCELLULAR CARCINOMA By Dong Chen. Purpose: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly virulent malignancy with no effective treatment, thus requiring the development of innovative and effective targeted therapies. The oncogene Astrocyte Elevated Gene-1 (AEG-1) plays a seminal role in hepatocarcinogenesis and profoundly downregulates Insulin-like Growth Factor Binding Protein-7 (IGFBP7). The present study focuses on analyzing potential tumor suppressor functions of IGFBP7 in HCC and the relevance of IGFBP7 downregulation in mediating AEG-1 function. Experimental Design: IGFBP7 expression was detected by immunohistochemistry in HCC tissue microarrays by real-time PCR and ELISA in human HCC cell lines. Dual Fluorescence in situ hybridization was performed to detect loss of heterozygosity at the IGFBP7 locus. Stable IGFBP7- overexpressing clones were established in the background of AEG-1- overexpressing human HCC cells and were analyzed for in vitro proliferation, senescence, in vivo tumorigenesis and angiogenesis. HCC cell lines infected with an adenovirus expressing IGFBP7 (Ad.IGFBP7) were analyzed by using in vitro cell cycle, apoptosis, in vivo tumorigenesis assays. Results: IGFBP7 expression is significantly downregulated in both human HCC patients’ samples and cell lines compared to normal liver and hepatocytes. IGFBP7 expression was also found to inversely correlate with the stages and grade of HCC. Genomic deletion of IGFBP7 was identified in 26% of HCC patients. Forced overexpression of IGFBP7 in AEG-1 overexpressing HCC cells inhibited in vitro growth and induced senescence. When injected into nude mice, in vivo growth was profoundly suppressed, potentially as a result of inhibition of both angiogenesis and IGF1R activation by IGFBP7. Ad.IGFBP7 profoundly inhibited viability and induced apoptosis in multiple human HCC cell lines by inducing Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and activating a DNA damage response. N-acetylcysteine could neutralize ROS and rescue the cells from apoptosis. In early phase after Ad.IGFBP7 infection, activation of cell cycle control proteins like Rb, p53, ATM, ATR, CHK1 and CHK2 were identified and G2/M cell cycle arrest was recorded by FACS. Ad.IGFBP7 infection resulted in the activation of p38 MAPK, and a p38 MAPK inhibitor SB 203580 could block the apoptotic process. In orthotopic xenograft models of human HCC in athymic nude mice, intravenous administration of Ad.IGFBP7 profoundly inhibited primary tumor growth and intra-hepatic metastasis. In a nude mouse subcutaneous model, xenografts from human HCC cells were established in both flanks and only left- side tumors received intratumoral injection of Ad.IGFBP7. Ad.IGFBP7 markedly inhibit growth of both left-sided injected tumors and right-sided un- injected tumors by profound suppression of angiogenesis. Conclusion: The present findings provide evidence that IGFBP7 functions as a novel putative tumor suppressor for HCC and establish the corollary that IGFBP7 downregulation can effectively modify AEG-1 function. Targeted overexpression of IGFBP7 may be a potential novel and effective therapy for HCC.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2012