Document Type


Publication Date



This article is the authors’ final published version in Frontiers in Pharmacology, Volume 12, July 2021, Article number 691769.

The published version is available at Copyright © Xia et al.


Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a lethal malignancy lacking effective treatment. The Cyclin-dependent kinases 4/6 (CDK4/6) and PI3K/AKT signal pathways play pivotal roles in carcinogenesis and are promising therapeutic targets for HCC. Here we identified a new CDK4/6 and PI3K/AKT multi-kinase inhibitor for the treatment of HCC.

Methods: Using a repurposing and ensemble docking methodology, we screened a library of worldwide approved drugs to identify candidate CDK4/6 inhibitors. By MTT, apoptosis, and flow cytometry analysis, we investigated the effects of candidate drug in reducing cell-viability,inducing apoptosis, and causing cell-cycle arrest. The drug combination and thermal proteomic profiling (TPP) method were used to investigate whether the candidate drug produced antagonistic effect. The in vivo anti-cancer effect was performed in BALB/C nude mice subcutaneously xenografted with Huh7 cells.

Results: We demonstrated for the first time that the anti-plasmodium drug aminoquinol is a new CDK4/6 and PI3K/AKT inhibitor. Aminoquinol significantly decreased cell viability, induced apoptosis, increased the percentage of cells in G1 phase. Drug combination screening indicated that aminoquinol could produce antagonistic effect with the PI3K inhibitor LY294002. TPP analysis confirmed that aminoquinol significantly stabilized CDK4, CDK6, PI3K and AKT proteins. Finally, in vivo study in Huh7 cells xenografted nude mice demonstrated that aminoquinol exhibited strong anti-tumor activity, comparable to that of the leading cancer drug 5-fluorouracil with the combination treatment showed the highest therapeutic effect.

Conclusion: The present study indicates for the first time the discovery of a new CDK4/6 and PI3K/AKT multi-kinase inhibitor aminoquinol. It could be used alone or as a combination therapeutic strategy for the treatment of HCC.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

PubMed ID




Included in

Oncology Commons