© 2018 del Campo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has been related to increased risk of development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) while metformin (M) and statins treatment seemed to protect against HCC development. In this work, we aim to identify the mechanisms by which metformin and simvastatin (S) could protect from liver cancer. Huh7.5 cells were infected with HCV particles and treated with M+S. Human primary hepatocytes were treated with M+S. Treatment with both drugs inhibited Huh7.5 cell growth and HCV infection. In non-infected cells S increased translational controlled tumor protein (TCTP) and phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) proteins while M inhibited mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and TCTP. Simvastatin and metformin co-administered down-regulated mTOR and TCTP, while PTEN was increased. In cells infected by HCV, mTOR, TCTP, p62 and light chain 3B II (LC3BII) were increased and PTEN was decreased. S+M treatment increased PTEN, p62 and LC3BII in Huh7.5 cells. In human primary hepatocytes, metformin treatment inhibited mTOR and PTEN, but up-regulated p62, LC3BII and Caspase 3. In conclusion, simvastatin and metformin inhibited cell growth and HCV infection in vitro. In human hepatocytes, metformin increased cell-death markers. These findings suggest that M+S treatment could be useful in therapeutic preventio n of HCV-related hepatocellular carcinoma.
Del Campo, J. A., García-Valdecasas, M., Gil-Gómez, A., Rojas, Á., Gallego, P., Ampuero, J., … Romero-Gómez, M. (2018). Simvastatin and metformin inhibit cell growth in hepatitis C virus infected cells via mTOR increasing PTEN and autophagy. PLoS ONE, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191805