Background: We previously showed that knockdown of nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) resulted in suppression of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In this study, whether brusatol, an Nrf2 inhibitor, has dual anti-HCV and anticancer effects was explored. Methods: The anti-HCV effect of brusatol was investigated by analyzing HCV RNA and proteins in a hepatic cell line persistently-infected with HCV, HPI cells, and by analyzing HCV replication in a replicon-replicating hepatic cell line, OR6 cells. Then, dual anti-HCV and anticancer effects of brusatol and enhancement of the effects by the combination of brusatol with anticancer drugs including sorafenib, which has been reported to have the dual effects, were then investigated. Results: Brusatol suppressed the persistent HCV infection at both the RNA and protein levels in association with a reduction in Nrf2 protein in the HPI cells. Analysis of the OR6 cells treated with brusatol indicated that brusatol inhibited HCV persistence by inhibiting HCV replication. Combination of brusatol with an anticancer drug not only enhanced the anticancer effect but also, in the case of the combination with sorafenib, strongly suppressed HCV infection. Conclusions: Brusatol has dual anti-HCV and anticancer effects and can enhance the comparable effects of sorafenib. There is therefore the potential for combination therapy of brusatol and sorafenib for HCV-related hepatocellular carcinoma.
ASJC Scopus subject areas