The in vitro effect of sodium butyrate (SB) on human hepatoma cell lines PLC/PRF/5, HCC‐M and HCC‐T was investigated. SB was added at the non‐toxic but cytostatic concentration of I mM. In all these cell lines, SB reduced cell proliferation and changed the morphology of the cells into a fibroblast‐like shape. In PLC/PRF/5, alpha‐fetoprotein production and c‐myc expression were inhibited. In contrast, gene expression of albumin, one of the normal liver‐cell products, Mid that of integrated hepatitis B virus genome, was increased. In HCC‐M and HCC‐T, c‐myc expression, which was enhanced In the naive state, was reduced. In HCC‐M, fos expression was inhibited but the expression of N‐ and K‐ras genes did not change. SB seemed to induce normal or mature properties of hepatocytes in human hepatoma cell lines.
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