Interferon (IFN)-β and/or tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) secreted by adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs) have been proposed as key mechanistic factors in anti-cancer efficacy in lung cancer and breast cancer cells, where they act through paracrine signaling. We hypothesized that IFN-β and TRAIL produced by ASCs suppress proliferation of hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HCCs). The present study evaluated the anti-cancer effects of ASCs on HCCs in vitro. We found that indirect co-culture with ASCs diminished growth of Huh7 hepatocellular carcinoma cells with increased protein levels of p53/p21 and phosphorylated STAT1 (pSTAT1), without apoptosis. Treatment with ASC-conditioned medium (ASC-CM) also decreased growth of Huh7 cells through elevated p53/p21 and pSTAT1 signaling. ASC-CM-mediated inhibition of cell growth was neutralized in Huh7 cells treated with anti-IFN-β antibody compared to that in ASC-CM-treated Huh7 cells incubated with an anti-TRAIL antibody. Treatment with JAK1/JAK2 inhibitors recovered inhibition of growth in Huh7 cells incubated in ASC-CM or IFN-β via down-regulation of pSTAT1/p53/p21. However, treatment of IFN-β resulted in no alterations in resistance of Huh7 cells to TRAIL. Our findings suggest that ASCs decrease growth through activated STAT1-mediated p53/p21 by IFN-β, but not TRAIL, in Huh7 cells.
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