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The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) keeps rising year by year, and became the second leading cause of cancer-related death. Some studies have found that liraglutide, a GLP-1 analog, may decrease the tumor cells proliferation. Due to this, the aim of this work is to investigate the antiproliferative potential of exenatide, another GLP-1 analog. Cell proliferation was assessed by direct count with Trypan blue dye exclusion. Flow cytometry was used to determinate autophagy and nuclear staining. Morphometric analysis was used to verify senescence and apoptosis. The mechanism that induced cell growth inhibition was analyzed by Western Blot. Treatment with exenatide significantly decreases cell proliferation and increases autophagy, both in relation to control and liraglutide. In addition, mTOR inhibition was greater in cells treated with exenatide. In relation to chronic treatment, exenatide does not allow cellular regrowth by preventing some resistance mechanism that the cells can acquire. These results suggest that exenatide has a potent anti-proliferative activity via mTOR modulation and, among the GLP-1 analogs tested, could be in the future an alternative for HCC treatment.
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