Allicin induces p53-mediated autophagy in Hep G2 human liver cancer cells

Yung Lin Chu, Chi-Tang Ho, Jing Gung Chung, Raghu Rajasekaran, Lee Yan Sheen

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64 Scopus citations


Garlic has been used throughout history for both culinary and medicinal purpose. Allicin is a major component of crushed garlic. Although it is sensitive to heat and light and easily metabolized into various compounds such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide, and diallyl sulfide, allicin is still a major bioactive compound of crushed garlic. The mortality of hepatocellular carcinoma is quite high and ranks among the top 10 cancer-related deaths in Taiwan. Although numerous studies have shown the cancer-preventive properties of garlic and its components, there is no study on the effect of allicin on the growth of human liver cancer cells. In this study, we focused on allicin-induced autophagic cell death in human liver cancer Hep G2 cells. Our results indicated that allicin induced p53-mediated autophagy and inhibited the viability of human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines. Using Western blotting, we observed that allicin decreased the level of cytoplasmic p53, the PI3K/mTOR signaling pathway, and the level of Bcl-2 and increased the expression of AMPK/TSC2 and Beclin-1 signaling pathways in Hep G2 cells. In addition, the colocalization of LC3-II with MitoTracker-Red (labeling mitochondria), resulting in allicin-induced degradation of mitochondria, could be observed by confocal laser microscopy. In conclusion, allicin of garlic shows great potential as a novel chemopreventive agent for the prevention of liver cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8363-8371
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of agricultural and food chemistry
Issue number34
StatePublished - Aug 29 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


  • Hep G2 cells
  • LC3-II
  • allicin
  • autophagy
  • p53

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