Liver cancer is the predominant cause of cancer mortality in males of Southern China and Taiwan. The current therapy is not satisfactory, and more effective treatments are needed. In the search for new therapies for liver tumor, we found that Concanavalin A (Con A), a lectin from Jack bean seeds, can have a potent anti-hepatoma effect. Con A after binding to the mannose moiety on the cell membrane glycoprotein is internalized preferentially to the mitochondria. An autophagy is triggered which leads to cell death. Con A as a T cell mitogen subsequently activates the immune response in the liver and results in the eradication of the tumor in a murine in situ hepatoma model. The liver tumor nodule formation is inhibited by the CD8+T cells, and a tumor antigen-specific immune memory is established during the hepatic inflammation. The dual properties (autophagic cytotoxicity and immunomodulation) via the specific carbohydrate binding let Con A exert a potent anti-hepatoma therapeutic effect. The novel mechanism of the Con A anti-hepatoma effect is discussed. The prototype of Con with an anti-hepatoma activity gives support to the search for other natural lectins as anti-cancer compounds.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Cell Biology
- Biochemistry, medical
- Pharmacology (medical)