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1.  Vorinostat and sorafenib increase ER stress, autophagy and apoptosis via ceramide-dependent CD95 and PERK activation 
Cancer biology & therapy  2008;7(10):1648-1662.
We recently noted that low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and this drug combination is entering phase I trials. The present studies mechanistically extended our initial observations. Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat, but not the individual agents, caused an acidic sphingomyelinase and fumonisin B1-dependent increase in CD95 surface levels and CD95 association with caspase 8. Knock down of CD95 or FADD expression reduced sorafenib/vorinostat lethality. Signaling by CD95 caused PERK activation that was responsible for both promoting caspase 8 association with CD95 and for increased eIF2α phosphorylation; suppression of eIF2α function abolished drug combination lethality. Cell killing was paralleled by PERK- and eIF2α-dependent lowering of c-FLIP-s protein levels and over-expression of c-FLIP-s maintained cell viability. In a CD95-, FADD- and PERK-dependent fashion, sorafenib and vorinostat increased expression of ATG5 that was responsible for enhanced autophagy. Expression of PDGFRβ and FLT3 were essential for high dose single agent sorafenib treatment to promote autophagy. Suppression of PERK function reduced sorafenib and vorinostat lethality whereas suppression of ATG5 levels elevated sorafenib and vorinostat lethality. Over-expression of c-FLIP-s blocked apoptosis and enhanced drug-induced autophagy. Thus sorafenib and vorinostat promote ceramide-dependent CD95 activation followed by induction of multiple downstream survival regulatory signals: ceramide-CD95-PERK-FADD-pro-caspase 8 (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-eIF2α -↓c-FLIP-s (death); ceramide-CD95-PERK-ATG5-autophagy (survival).
PMCID: PMC2674577  PMID: 18787411
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; PDGFRβ; FLT3; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
2.  Sorafenib and HDAC inhibitors synergize to kill CNS tumor cells 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2012;13(7):567-574.
The present studies were designed to determine whether the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib (Nexavar) interacted with histone deacetylase inhibitors to kill glioblastoma and medulloblastoma cells. In a dose-dependent fashion sorafenib lethality was enhanced in multiple genetically disparate primary human glioblastoma isolates by the HDAC inhibitor sodium valproate (Depakote). Drug exposure reduced phosphorylation of p70 S6K and of mTOR. Similar data to that with valproate were also obtained using the HDAC inhibitor vorinostat (Zolinza). Sorafenib and valproate also interacted to kill medulloblastoma and PNET cell lines. Treatment with sorafenib and HDAC inhibitors radio-sensitized both GBM and medulloblastoma cell lines. Knock down of death receptor (CD95) expression protected GBM cells from the drug combination, as did overexpression of c-FLIP-s, BCL-XL and dominant negative caspase 9. Knock down of PDGFRα recapitulated the effect of sorafenib in combination with HDAC inhibitors. Collectively, our data demonstrate that the combination of sorafenib and HDAC inhibitors kills through activation of the extrinsic pathway, and could represent a useful approach to treat CNS-derived tumors.
doi:10.4161/cbt.19771
PMCID: PMC3679096  PMID: 22406992
HDAC inhibitor; Sorafenib; apoptosis; glioma
3.  Sorafenib activates CD95 and promotes autophagy and cell death via Src family kinases in GI tumor cells 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(8):2220-2231.
Sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and the present studies have determined individually how sorafenib and vorinostat contribute to CD95 activation. Sorafenib (3-6 μM) promoted a dose-dependent increase in Src Y416, ERBB1 Y845 and CD95 Y232/Y291 phosphorylation, and Src Y527 dephosphorylation. Low levels of sorafenib (3 μM) –induced CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation did not promote surface localization whereas sorafenib (6 μM), or sorafenib (3 μM) and vorinostat (500 nM) treatment promoted higher levels of CD95 phosphorylation that correlated with DISC formation, receptor surface localization and autophagy. CD95 (Y232F, Y291F) was not tyrosine phosphorylated and was unable to plasma membrane localize or induce autophagy. Knock down / knock out of Src family kinases abolished sorafenib –induced: CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation; DISC formation; and the induction of cell death and autophagy. Knock down of PDGFRβ enhanced Src Y416 and CD95 tyrosine phosphorylation that correlated with elevated CD95 plasma membrane levels and autophagy, and with a reduced ability of sorafenib to promote CD95 membrane localization. Vorinostat increased ROS levels; and in a delayed NFκB-dependent fashion, those of FAS ligand and CD95. Neutralization of FAS-L did not alter the initial rapid drug-induced activation of CD95 however, neutralization of FAS-L reduced sorafenib + vorinostat toxicity by ~50%. Thus sorafenib contributes to CD95 activation by promoting receptor tyrosine phosphorylation whereas vorinostat contributes to CD95 activation via initial facilitation of ROS generation and subsequently of FAS-L expression.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-0274
PMCID: PMC2933415  PMID: 20682655
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; CD95; c-FLIP-s; FAS-L; cell death; autophagy
4.  Inhibition of autophagy significantly enhances combination therapy with sorafenib and HDAC inhibitors for human hepatoma cells 
AIM: To clarify whether histone deacetylase inhibitors histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACIs) can sensitize hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells to sorafenib treatment.
METHODS: Bax, Bcl-2, ATG5-ATG12, p21, and p27 protein levels in Hep3B, HepG2, and PLC/PRF/5 cells were examined by Western blot. CCK8 and a fluorometric caspase-3 assay were used to examine cellular viability and apoptosis levels. The effect of Beclin-1 on sensitization of HCC cells to sorafenib was examined by transfecting Beclin-1 siRNA into Hep3B, HepG2, and PLC/PRF/5 cells.
RESULTS: Autophagy inhibition enhances the inhibitory effects of vorinostat and sorafenib alone or in combination on HCC cell growth. Vorinostat and sorafenib synergistically induced apoptosis and cell cycle alterations. Western blot data indicated that HDACIs and Beclin-1 knockdown increased the p53 acetylation level. The knockdown of Beclin-1 enhanced the synergistic effect of the combination of vorinostat with sorafenib.
CONCLUSION: HDACIs can sensitize HCC cells to sorafenib treatment by regulating the acetylation level of Beclin-1.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i17.4953
PMCID: PMC4009527  PMID: 24833845
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Histone deacetylase inhibitors; Autophagy; Sorafenib; Chemoresistance
5.  Vorinostat and sorafenib increase CD95 activation in gastrointestinal tumor cells through a Ca2+ - de novo ceramide - PP2A - ROS dependent signaling pathway 
Cancer research  2010;70(15):6313-6324.
The targeted therapeutics sorafenib and vorinostat interact in a synergistic fashion to kill carcinoma cells by activating CD95, and this drug combination is entering phase I evaluation. In this study we determined how CD95 is activated by treatment with this drug combination. Low doses of sorafenib and vorinostat but not the individual drugs rapidly increased ROS, Ca2+ and ceramide levels in GI tumor cells. The production of ROS was reduced in Rho zero cells. Quenching ROS blocked drug-induced CD95 surface localization and apoptosis. ROS generation, CD95 activation and cell killing was also blocked by quenching of induced Ca2+ levels or by inhibition of PP2A. Inhibition of acidic sphingomyelinase or de novo ceramide generation blocked the induction of ROS however combined inhibition of both acidic sphingomyelinase and de novo ceramide generation was required to block the induction of Ca2+. Quenching of ROS did not impact on drug-induced ceramide/dihydro-ceramide levels whereas quenching of Ca2+ reduced the ceramide increase. Sorafenib and vorinostat treatment radiosensitized liver and pancreatic cancer cells, an effect that was suppressed by quenching ROS or knock down of LASS6. Further, sorafenib and vorinostat treatment suppressed the growth of pancreatic tumors in vivo. Our findings demonstrate that induction of cytosolic Ca2+ by sorafenib and vorinostat is a primary event that elevates dihydroceramide levels, each essential steps in ROS generation that promotes CD95 activation.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-0999
PMCID: PMC2918282  PMID: 20631069
6.  Antioxidants Impair Anti-Tumoral Effects of Vorinostat, but Not Anti-Neoplastic Effects of Vorinostat and Caspase-8 Downregulation 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92764.
We have recently demonstrated that histone deacetylase inhibitor, Vorinostat, applied as a single therapy or in combination with caspase-8 downregulation exhibits high anti-tumoral activity on endometrial carcinoma cell lines. In the present study, we have assessed the signalling processes underlying anti-tumoral effects of Vorinostat. Increasing evidence suggests that reactive oxygen species are responsible for histone deacetylase inhibitor-induced cell killing. We have found that Vorinostat induces formation of reactive oxygen species and DNA damage. To investigate the role of oxidative stress as anti-neoplastic mechanism, we have evaluated the effects of different antioxidants (Bha, Nac and Tiron) on endometrial carcinoma cell line Ishikawa treated with Vorinostat. We show that Bha, Nac and Tiron markedly inhibited the cytotoxic effects of Vorinostat, increasing cell viability in vitro. We found that all three antioxidants did not inhibited accumulation of acetyl Histone H4, so that antioxidants did not inhibit Vorinostat activity. Finally, we have evaluated the effects of antioxidants on anti-tumoral activity of Vorinostat as monotherapy or in combination with caspase-8 downregulation in vivo. Interestingly, antioxidants blocked the reduction of tumour growth caused by Vorinostat, but they were unable to inhibit anti-tumoral activity of Vorinostat plus caspase-8 inhibition.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0092764
PMCID: PMC3961419  PMID: 24651472
7.  Phase I Study of Vorinostat in Patients With Advanced Solid Tumors and Hepatic Dysfunction: A National Cancer Institute Organ Dysfunction Working Group Study 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(29):4507-4512.
Purpose
Vorinostat is the first US Food and Drug Administration–approved histone deacetylase inhibitor and is indicated for the treatment of refractory cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. We conducted a phase I study to determine the maximum-tolerated dose and pharmacokinetics of vorinostat in patients with hepatic dysfunction.
Patients and Methods
Patients had solid malignancies and acceptable bone marrow and renal function. Hepatic dysfunction was categorized as mild, moderate, or severe by the National Cancer Institute Organ Dysfunction Working Group criteria. Fifteen patients with normal liver function were enrolled as controls. All patients received a single 400-mg dose of vorinostat for pharmacokinetic studies. One week later, daily vorinostat dosing was begun and continued until toxicity or disease progression occurred. The daily vorinostat dose was escalated within each hepatic dysfunction category. Vorinostat plasma concentrations were quantitated by a validated liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry assay and modeled noncompartmentally.
Results
Fifty-seven patients were enrolled (median age, 59 years; females, n = 24); 42 patients had hepatic dysfunction (16 mild, 15 moderate, and 11 severe). Eight of nine patients with dose-limiting toxicity had grade 4 thrombocytopenia. The recommended vorinostat doses in mild, moderate, and severe hepatic dysfunction were 300, 200, and 100 mg, respectively, on the daily continuous schedule. There were no significant differences in vorinostat pharmacokinetic parameters among the normal or hepatic dysfunction categories. Disease stabilization was noted in 12 patients. Of five patients with adenoid cystic carcinoma, one patient had a partial response, and four patients had stable disease. A patient with papillary thyroid carcinoma had stable disease for more than 2 years.
Conclusion
Patients with varying degrees of hepatic dysfunction require appropriate dose reduction even though vorinostat pharmacokinetics are unaltered.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2010.30.2307
PMCID: PMC2988640  PMID: 20837947
8.  Inhibition of radiation-induced DNA repair and pro-survival pathways contribute to vorinostat-mediated radiosensitization of pancreatic cancer cells 
Pancreas  2010;39(8):1277-1283.
Objective:
The intrinsic radioresistance of pancreatic cancer (PaCa) is due to multiple oncogenic signaling pathways. In contrast to combining radiation therapy (RT) with targeted therapeutic agent(s) whose blockade can be circumvented by redundant signaling pathways, we evaluated the combination of RT with a broad-spectrum histone deacetylase inhibitor, vorinostat.
Methods:
Radiosensitization by vorinostat was analyzed using clonogenic survival assays. Apoptosis was evaluated using flow cytometry and immunoblotting. DNA repair was evaluated using immunofluorescence assessment of histone2AX phosphorylation and immunoblotting for DNA repair proteins. Pro-survival pathway proteins were measured by immunoblotting and electrophoretic mobility shift assays.
Results:
Vorinostat significantly sensitized PaCa cells to radiation, but vorinostat-induced apoptosis did not contribute significantly to the observed radiosensitization. However, vorinostat inhibited DNA damage repair by targeting key DNA repair proteins and also abrogated pro-survival pathways responsible for PaCa aggressiveness and radioresistance. Specifically, the constitutively overexpressed epidermal growth factor receptor and nuclear factor kappaB pathways were shown to be induced by radiation and inhibited by vorinostat.
Conclusions:
Vorinostat augments the anti-tumor effects of RT by abrogating radioresistance responses of PaCa cells mediated by pro-survival and DNA repair pathways, and promises to be a clinically relevant adjunct to RT for treatment of PaCa.
doi:10.1097/MPA.0b013e3181dd63e1
PMCID: PMC2955787  PMID: 20531243
Vorinostat; Pancreatic Cancer; Radiation; NF-κB; EGFR; Radiosensitization
9.  Vorinostat and bortezomib exert synergistic antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects in colon cancer cell models 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2009;8(2):342-349.
Despite the availability of several Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs, advanced inoperable colorectal cancer remains incurable. In this study, we focused on the development of combined molecular targeted therapies against colon cancer by testing the efficacy of the combination of the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat with the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib to determine if this resulted in synergistic antitumor effects against colorectal cancer. The effects of the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat in combination with the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib on the growth of two colorectal cancer cell lines were assessed with regard to proliferation, cell cycle arrest, and apoptosis. Treatment with the combination of vorinostat and bortezomib resulted in a synergistic decrease in proliferation of both colorectal cancer cell lines compared with treatment with single agents alone. This inhibition was associated with a synergistic increase in apoptosis as measured by caspase-3/7 activity and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. In addition, we observed an increase in the proapoptotic protein BIM and in the number of cells arrested in the G2-M phase of the cell cycle. Although p21 levels were significantly increased, short hairpin RNA knockdown of p21 did not lead to changes in proliferation in response to the combination of drugs, indicating that although p21 is a target of these drugs, it is not required to mediate their antiproliferative effects. These data indicate that combination treatment with vorinostat and bortezomib result in synergistic antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects against colon cancer cell lines, providing a rational basis for the clinical use of this combination for the treatment of colorectal cancer.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-08-0534
PMCID: PMC2813767  PMID: 19174560
10.  Regulation of autophagy by ceramide-CD95-PERK signaling 
Autophagy  2008;4(7):929-931.
The manuscripts by Park et al.1 and Zhang et al.2 were initially planned as studies to understand the regulation of cell survival in transformed cells treated with sorafenib and vorinostat, and in primary hepatocytes treated with a bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor. In both cell systems we discovered that the toxicity of sorafenib and vorinostat or bile acid+MEK1/2 inhibitor exposure depended on the generation of ceramide and the ligand-independent activation of the CD95 death receptor, with subsequent activation of pro-caspase 8. We noted, however, in these systems that, in parallel with death receptor–induced activation of the extrinsic pathway, CD95 signaling also promoted increased phosphorylation of PKR-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase (PERK) and eIF2α, increased expression of ATG5, and increased processing of LC3 and vesicularization of a GFP-LC3 construct. The knockdown of ATG5 expression blocked GFP-LC3 vesicularization and enhanced cell killing. Thus ceramide-CD95 signaling promoted cell death via activation of pro-caspase 8 and cell survival via autophagy. PERK was shown to signal in a switch-hitting fashion; PERK promoted CD95-DISC formation and an eIF2α-dependent reduction in c-FLIP-s levels that were essential for cell killing to proceed, but in parallel it also promoted autophagy that was protective. The death receptor-induced apoptosis and autophagy occur proximal to the receptor rather than the mitochondrion, and the relative flow of death receptor signaling into either pathway may determine cell fate. Finally, death receptor induced apoptosis and autophagy could be potential targets for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC3292039  PMID: 18719356
Vorinostat; Sorafenib; bile acid; CD95; autophagy; ceramide; cell death; ASMase
11.  Identification of an acetylation-dependant Ku70/FLIP complex that regulates FLIP expression and HDAC inhibitor-induced apoptosis 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2012;19(8):1317-1327.
FLIP is a potential anti-cancer therapeutic target that inhibits apoptosis by blocking caspase 8 activation by death receptors. We report a novel interaction between FLIP and the DNA repair protein Ku70 that regulates FLIP protein stability by inhibiting its polyubiquitination. Furthermore, we found that the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor Vorinostat (SAHA) enhances the acetylation of Ku70, thereby disrupting the FLIP/Ku70 complex and triggering FLIP polyubiquitination and degradation by the proteasome. Using in vitro and in vivo colorectal cancer models, we further demonstrated that SAHA-induced apoptosis is dependant on FLIP downregulation and caspase 8 activation. In addition, an HDAC6-specific inhibitor Tubacin recapitulated the effects of SAHA, suggesting that HDAC6 is a key regulator of Ku70 acetylation and FLIP protein stability. Thus, HDAC inhibitors with anti-HDAC6 activity act as efficient post-transcriptional suppressors of FLIP expression and may, therefore, effectively act as ‘FLIP inhibitors'.
doi:10.1038/cdd.2012.8
PMCID: PMC3392639  PMID: 22322857
Ku70; FLIP; caspase 8; HDAC inhibitors; colorectal cancer; apoptosis
12.  The Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor, Vorinostat, Reduces Tumor Growth at the Metastatic Bone Site and Associated Osteolysis, but Promotes Normal Bone Loss 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(12):3210-3220.
Vorinostat, an oral histone deacetylase inhibitor with anti-tumor activity, is in clinical trials for hematological and solid tumors that metastasize and compromise bone structure. Consequently, there is a requirement to establish the effects of vorinostat on tumor growth within bone. Breast (MDA-231) and prostate (PC3) cancer cells were injected into tibias of SCID/NCr mice and the effects of vorinostat on tumor growth and osteolytic disease were assessed by radiography, μCT, histological and molecular analyses. Vorinostat-treated and control mice without tumors were also examined. Tumor growth in bone was reduced ~33% by vorinostat with inhibited osteolysis in the first few weeks of the experiment; however, osteolysis became more severe in both the vehicle and vorinostat-treated groups. Vorinostat increased the expression of tumor-derived factors promoting bone resorption, including PTHrP, IL-8 and osteopontin. After four weeks of vorinostat therapy the non-tumor bearing contra-lateral femurs as well as limbs from vorinostat-treated tumor-free SCID mice, showed significant bone loss (50% volume density of controls). Thus, our studies indicate that vorinostat effectively inhibits tumor growth in bone, but has a negative systemic effect reducing normal trabecular bone mass. Vorinostat treatment reduces tumor growth in bone and accompanying osteolytic disease as a result of decreased tumor burden in bone. However, vorinostat can promote osteopenia throughout the skeleton independent of tumor cell activity.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-0572
PMCID: PMC3059237  PMID: 21159607
Vorinostat; SAHA; tumor-induced osteolysis; breast cancer; prostate cancer; metastatic cells in bone
13.  Phase I–II study of vorinostat plus paclitaxel and bevacizumab in metastatic breast cancer: evidence for vorinostat-induced tubulin acetylation and Hsp90 inhibition in vivo 
Breast cancer research and treatment  2011;132(3):1063-1072.
Purpose
In preclinical models, the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat sensitizes breast cancer cells to tubulin polymerizing agents and to anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) directed therapies. We sought to determine the safety and efficacy of vorinostat plus paclitaxel and bevacizumab as first-line therapy in metastatic breast cancer (MBC), and the biological effects of vorinostat in vivo.
Patients and Methods
Fifty-four patients with measurable disease and no prior chemotherapy for MBC received vorinostat (200 or 300 mg PO BID) on days 1–3, 8–10, and 15–17, plus paclitaxel (90mg/m2) on days 2, 9, 16 and bevacizumab (10mg/kg) on days 2 and 16 every 28 days. The primary objective of the phase I study was to determine the recommended phase II dose (RPTD) of vorinostat, and for the phase II to detect an improvement of response rate from 40% to 60% (alpha =0.10, beta=0.10).
Results
No dose limiting toxicities were observed, and the RPTD of vorinostat was 300 mg BID. For the primary efficacy analysis in 44 patients at the RPTD, we observed 24 objective responses (55%, 95% confidence intervals [C.I.] 39%, 70%). The adverse event profile was consistent with paclitaxel-bevacizumab, with the exception of increased diarrhea with the addition of vorinostat. Analysis of serial tumor biopsies in 7 patients showed increased acetylation of Hsp 90 and -tubulin following vorinostat.
Conclusions
Vorinostat induces histone and alpha tubulin acetylation and functional inhibition of Hsp90 in breast cancer in vivo and can be safely combined with paclitaxel and bevacizumab.
doi:10.1007/s10549-011-1928-x
PMCID: PMC3486521  PMID: 22200869
Metastatic breast cancer; paclitaxel; bevacizumab; vorinostat; HDAC inhibitors
14.  Inhibiting oncogenic signaling by sorafenib activates PUMA via GSK3β and NF-κB to suppress tumor cell growth 
Oncogene  2012;31(46):4848-4858.
Aberrant Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling is one of the most prevalent oncogenic alterations and confers survival advantage to tumor cells. Inhibition of this pathway can effectively suppress tumor cell growth. For example, sorafenib, a multi-kinase inhibitor targeting c-Raf and other oncogenic kinases, has been used clinically for treating advanced liver and kidney tumors, and also has shown efficacy against other malignancies. However, how inhibition of oncogenic signaling by sorafenib and other drugs suppresses tumor cell growth remains unclear. In this study, we found that sorafenib kills cancer cells by activating PUMA, a p53 target and a BH3-only Bcl-2 family protein. Sorafenib treatment induces PUMA in a variety of cancer cells irrespective of their p53 status. Surprisingly, the induction of PUMA by sorafenib is mediated by IκB-independent activation of NF-κB, which directly binds to the PUMA promoter to activate its transcription. NF-κB activation by sorafenib requires GSK3β activation, subsequent to ERK inhibition. Deficiency in PUMA abrogates sorafenib-induced apoptosis and caspase activation, and renders sorafenib resistance in colony formation and xenograft tumor assays. Furthermore, the chemosensitization effect of sorafenib is dependent on PUMA, and involves concurrent PUMA induction through different pathways. BH3 mimetics potentiate the anticancer effects of sorafenib, and restore sorafenib sensitivity in resistant cells. Together, these results demonstrate a key role of PUMA-dependent apoptosis in therapeutic inhibition of Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling. They provide a rationale for manipulating the apoptotic machinery to improve sensitivity and overcome resistance to the therapies that target oncogenic kinase signaling.
doi:10.1038/onc.2011.644
PMCID: PMC3342476  PMID: 22286758
sorafenib; PUMA; apoptosis; NF-κB; GSK3β; colon cancer
15.  Synergistic Anticancer Effects of Vorinostat and Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate against HuCC-T1 Human Cholangiocarcinoma Cells 
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the combination of vorinostat and epigallocatechin-3-gallate against HuCC-T1 human cholangiocarcinoma cells. A novel chemotherapy strategy is required as cholangiocarcinomas rarely respond to conventional chemotherapeutic agents. Both vorinostat and EGCG induce apoptosis and suppress invasion, migration, and angiogenesis of tumor cells. The combination of vorinostat and EGCG showed synergistic growth inhibitory effects and induced apoptosis in tumor cells. The Bax/Bcl-2 expression ratio and caspase-3 and -7 activity increased, but poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase expression decreased when compared to treatment with each agent alone. Furthermore, invasion, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression, and migration of tumor cells decreased following treatment with the vorinostat and EGCG combination compared to those of vorinostat or EGCG alone. Tube length and junction number of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) decreased as well as vascular endothelial growth factor expression following vorinostat and EGCG combined treatment. These results indicate that the combination of vorinostat and EGCG had a synergistic effect on inhibiting tumor cell angiogenesis potential. We suggest that the combination of vorinostat and EGCG is a novel option for cholangiocarcinoma chemotherapy.
doi:10.1155/2013/185158
PMCID: PMC3706064  PMID: 23864881
16.  Vorinostat Induces Reactive Oxygen Species and DNA Damage in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20987.
Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) are promising anti-cancer agents, however, their mechanisms of action remain unclear. In acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells, HDACi have been reported to arrest growth and induce apoptosis. In this study, we elucidate details of the DNA damage induced by the HDACi vorinostat in AML cells. At clinically relevant concentrations, vorinostat induces double-strand breaks and oxidative DNA damage in AML cell lines. Additionally, AML patient blasts treated with vorinostat display increased DNA damage, followed by an increase in caspase-3/7 activity and a reduction in cell viability. Vorinostat-induced DNA damage is followed by a G2-M arrest and eventually apoptosis. We found that pre-treatment with the antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) reduces vorinostat-induced DNA double strand breaks, G2-M arrest and apoptosis. These data implicate DNA damage as an important mechanism in vorinostat-induced growth arrest and apoptosis in both AML cell lines and patient-derived blasts. This supports the continued study and development of vorinostat in AMLs that may be sensitive to DNA-damaging agents and as a combination therapy with ionizing radiation and/or other DNA damaging agents.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020987
PMCID: PMC3112218  PMID: 21695163
17.  Combination of HDAC and topoisomerase inhibitors in small cell lung cancer 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2012;13(8):614-622.
Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, including MGCD0103 and vorinostat, have led to tumor growth inhibition and apoptosis in vivo. However, with limited single-agent activity demonstrated in solid tumor trials, we examined the potential for enhanced effects in combination with topoisomerase I and II inhibitors, a staple for treatment in refractory small cell lung cancer (SCLC). SCLC cell lines were exposed to increasing concentrations of single-agent HDAC inhibitors and topoisomerase inhibitors, in various combinations, to assess for cell viability, additivity or synergy, and apoptosis. We found that MGCD0103 and vorinostat decreased cell viability by at least 60% and 80%, respectively. In the majority of cell lines, the strongest synergism was seen when vorinostat was followed by either etoposide or topotecan; concurrent therapy led to antagonism in most cell lines. Synergistic effects were seen when MGCD0103 was given concurrently or sequentially with both amrubicin and epirubicin. Enhanced additive effects leading to caspase activation were noted for the combination of MGCD0103 or vorinostat with a topoisomerase inhibitor vs. either agent alone. Thus, the combination of HDAC inhibitors and topoisomerase inhibitors showed enhanced cytotoxic effects in SCLC cell lines. Further evaluation in a clinical setting may be warranted.
doi:10.4161/cbt.19848
PMCID: PMC3408970  PMID: 22441819
combination therapy; HDAC; SCLC; survival; topoisomerase inhibitors
18.  The novel Chk1 inhibitor MK-8776 sensitizes human leukemia cells to HDAC inhibitors by targeting the intra-S checkpoint and DNA replication and repair 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2013;12(6):878-889.
Interactions between the novel Chk1 inhibitor MK-8776 and the HDAC inhibitor (HDACI) vorinostat were examined in human leukemia cells harboring wild-type (wt) or deficient p53. MK-8776 synergistically potentiated vorinostat-mediated apoptosis in various p53-wild type (wt) or -deficient leukemia cell lines, while p53 knock-down by shRNA sensitized p53-wt cells to lethality of this regimen. Leukemia cell lines carrying FLT3-ITD were also sensitive to the MK-8776/vorinostat regimen. Synergistic interactions were associated with inhibition of Chk1 activity, interference with the intra-S phase checkpoint, disruption of DNA replication, and down-regulation of proteins involved in DNA replication (e.g.,CDT1) and repair (e.g., CtIP and BRCA1), resulting in sharp increases in DNA damage, reflected by enhanced γH2A.X formation, and apoptosis. Moreover, leukemia cells expressing kinase-dead Chk1 (D130A) or Chk1 shRNA were significantly more sensitive to HDACIs compared to their wild-type counterparts, and displayed down-regulation of CtIP and BRCA1 phosphorylation following HDACI exposure. Finally, the MK-8776/vorinostat regimen was active in primary AML blasts, particularly against the CD34+/CD38-/CD123+ population enriched for leukemia-initiating cells. In contrast, identical regimens were relatively sparing toward normal cord blood CD34+ cells. Together, these findings indicate that the novel Chk1 inhibitor MK-8776 markedly potentiates HDACI lethality in leukemia cells displaying various genetic backgrounds through mechanisms involving disruption of the intra-S checkpoint, DNA replication, and DNA repair. They also argue that leukemic cells, including those bearing oncogenic mutations associated with poor prognosis e.g., p53 deletion/mutation or FLT3-ITD, may also be susceptible to this strategy.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-12-0902
PMCID: PMC3681875  PMID: 23536721
Chk1 inhibitor; HDAC inhibitor; S phase; DNA damage/repair; leukemia
19.  Histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat suppresses the growth of uterine sarcomas in vitro and in vivo 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:49.
Background
Uterine sarcomas are very rare malignancies with no approved chemotherapy protocols. Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors belong to the most promising groups of compounds for molecular targeting therapy. Here, we described the antitumor effects of suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA; vorinostat) on MES-SA uterine sarcoma cells in vitro and in vivo. We investigated effects of vorinostat on growth and colony forming ability by using uterine sarcoma MES-SA cells. We analyzed the influence of vorinostat on expression of different HDACs, p21WAF1 and activation of apoptosis. Finally, we examined the antitumor effects of vorinostat on uterine sarcoma in vivo.
Results
Vorinostat efficiently suppressed MES-SA cell growth at a low dosage (3 μM) already after 24 hours treatment. Decrease of cell survival was even more pronounced after prolonged treatment and reached 9% and 2% after 48 and 72 hours of treatment, respectively. Colony forming capability of MES-SA cells treated with 3 μM vorinostat for 24 and 48 hours was significantly diminished and blocked after 72 hours. HDACs class I (HDAC2 and 3) as well as class II (HDAC7) were preferentially affected by this treatment. Vorinostat significantly increased p21WAF1 expression and apoptosis. Nude mice injected with 5 × 106 MES-SA cells were treated for 21 days with vorinostat (50 mg/kg/day) and, in comparison to placebo group, a tumor growth reduction of more than 50% was observed. Results obtained by light- and electron-microscopy suggested pronounced activation of apoptosis in tumors isolated from vorinostat-treated mice.
Conclusions
Our data strongly indicate the high therapeutic potential of vorinostat in uterine sarcomas.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-9-49
PMCID: PMC2843655  PMID: 20202195
20.  Vorinostat-induced autophagy switches from a death-promoting to a cytoprotective signal to drive acquired resistance 
Cell Death & Disease  2013;4(2):e486-.
Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) have shown promising activity against hematological malignancies in clinical trials and have led to the approval of vorinostat for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. However, de novo or acquired resistance to HDACi therapy is inevitable, and their molecular mechanisms are still unclear. To gain insight into HDACi resistance, we developed vorinostat-resistant clones from the hematological cell lines U937 and SUDHL6. Although cross-resistant to some but not all HDACi, the resistant cell lines exhibit dramatically increased sensitivity toward chloroquine, an inhibitor of autophagy. Consistent with this, resistant cells growing in vorinostat show increased autophagy. Inhibition of autophagy in vorinostat-resistant U937 cells by knockdown of Beclin-1 or Lamp-2 (lysosome-associated membrane protein 2) restores sensitivity to vorinostat. Interestingly, autophagy is also activated in parental U937 cells by de novo treatment with vorinostat. However, in contrast to the resistant cells, inhibition of autophagy decreases sensitivity to vorinostat. These results indicate that autophagy can switch from a proapoptotic signal to a prosurvival function driving acquired resistance. Moreover, inducers of autophagy (such as mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors) synergize with vorinostat to induce cell death in parental cells, whereas the resistant cells remain insensitive. These data highlight the complexity of the design of combination strategies using modulators of autophagy and HDACi for the treatment of hematological malignancies.
doi:10.1038/cddis.2012.210
PMCID: PMC3734816  PMID: 23392174
histone deacetylase inhibitor; autophagy; lymphoma; resistance
21.  Biomarkers of Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor Activity in a Phase 1 Combined-Modality Study with Radiotherapy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89750.
Background
Following the demonstration that histone deacetylase inhibitors enhanced experimental radiation-induced clonogenic suppression, the Pelvic Radiation and Vorinostat (PRAVO) phase 1 study, combining fractionated radiotherapy with daily vorinostat for pelvic carcinoma, was designed to evaluate both clinical and novel biomarker endpoints, the latter relating to pharmacodynamic indicators of vorinostat action in clinical radiotherapy.
Patients and Methods
Potential biomarkers of vorinostat radiosensitizing action, not simultaneously manifesting molecular perturbations elicited by the radiation itself, were explored by gene expression array analysis of study patients' peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), sampled at baseline (T0) and on-treatment two and 24 hours (T2 and T24) after the patients had received vorinostat.
Results
This strategy revealed 1,600 array probes that were common for the comparisons T2 versus T0 and T24 versus T2 across all of the patients, and furthermore, that no significantly differential expression was observed between the T0 and T24 groups. Functional annotation analysis of the array data showed that a significant number of identified genes were implicated in gene regulation, the cell cycle, and chromatin biology. Gene expression was validated both in patients' PBMC and in vorinostat-treated human carcinoma xenograft models, and transient repression of MYC was consistently observed.
Conclusion
Within the design of the PRAVO study, all of the identified genes showed rapid and transient induction or repression and therefore, in principle, fulfilled the requirement of being pharmacodynamic biomarkers of vorinostat action in fractionated radiotherapy, possibly underscoring the role of MYC in this therapeutic setting.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089750
PMCID: PMC3934935  PMID: 24587009
22.  Radiosensitization by the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat under hypoxia and with capecitabine in experimental colorectal carcinoma 
Background
The histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat is a candidate radiosensitizer in locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Radiosensitivity is critically influenced by hypoxia; hence, it is important to evaluate the efficacy of potential radiosensitizers under variable tissue oxygenation. Since fluoropyrimidine-based chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is the only clinically validated regimen in LARC, efficacy in combination with this established regimen should be assessed in preclinical models before a candidate drug enters clinical trials.
Methods
Radiosensitization by vorinostat under hypoxia was studied in four colorectal carcinoma cell lines and in one colorectal carcinoma xenograft model by analysis of clonogenic survival and tumor growth delay, respectively. Radiosensitizing effects of vorinostat in combination with capecitabine were assessed by evaluation of tumor growth delay in two colorectal carcinoma xenografts models.
Results
Under hypoxia, radiosensitization by vorinostat was demonstrated in vitro in terms of decreased clonogenicity and in vivo as inhibition of tumor growth. Adding vorinostat to capecitabine-based CRT increased radiosensitivity of xenografts in terms of inhibited tumor growth.
Conclusions
Vorinostat sensitized colorectal carcinoma cells to radiation under hypoxia in vitro and in vivo and improved therapeutic efficacy in combination with capecitabine-based CRT in vivo. The results encourage implementation of vorinostat into CRT in LARC trials.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-7-165
PMCID: PMC3488009  PMID: 23017053
Rectal cancer; Vorinostat; Fluoropyrimidine; Hypoxia; Radiation
23.  INHIBITION OF MEK/ERK1/2 SENSITIZES LYMPHOMA CELLS TO SORAFENIB-INDUCED APOPTOSIS 
Leukemia research  2010;34(3):379-386.
Interactions between the multi-kinase inhibitor sorafenib and MEK1/2 inhibitors were investigated in DLBCL cells. Sorafenib (3 – 10µM) triggered apoptosis in multiple GC and ABC lymphoma cells. Unexpectedly, sorafenib did not cause sustained ERK1/2 inactivation, and in SUDHL-6 and -16 cells, triggered ERK1/2 activation. Marginally toxic MEK1/2 inhibitor concentrations (5µM PD184352) abrogated ERK1/2 activation in sorafenib-treated cells and synergistically potentiated apoptosis. MEK1 shRNA transfection also significantly increased sorafenib-mediated lethality. Sorafenib/PD184352 co-administration accelerated Mcl-1 down-regulation without upregulating BimEL. Finally, ectopic Mcl-1 expression attenuated sorafenib/PD184352-mediated apoptosis. Together, these findings provide a theoretical basis for potentiating sorafenib anti-lymphoma activity by MEK1/2 inhibitors.
doi:10.1016/j.leukres.2009.07.013
PMCID: PMC3150480  PMID: 20117835
Lymphoma; sorafenib; PD184352; MEK1/2/ERK1/2; Mcl-1
24.  Vorinostat increases carboplatin and paclitaxel activity in non-small cell lung cancer cells 
We observed a 53% response rate in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated with vorinostat plus paclitaxel/carboplatin in a Phase I trial. Studies were undertaken to investigate the mechanism (s) underlying this activity. Growth inhibition was assessed in NSCLC cells by MTT assay after 72 h of continuous drug exposure. Vorinostat (1 µM) inhibited growth by: 17±7% in A549, 28±6% in 128-88T, 39±8% in Calu1, and 41±7% in 201T cells. Vorinostat addition to carboplatin or paclitaxel led to significantly greater growth inhibition than chemotherapy alone in all 4 cell lines. Vorinostat (1 µM) synergistically increased the growth inhibitory effects of carboplatin/paclitaxel in 128-88T cells. When colony formation was measured after drug withdrawal, vorinostat significantly increased the effects of carboplatin but not paclitaxel. The % colony formation was: control 100%; 1 µM vorinostat 83% ± 10%; 5 µM carboplatin, 41% ± 11%; carboplatin/vorinostat, 8% ± 4%; 2 nM paclitaxel, 53% ± 11%; paclitaxel/vorinostat 46% ± 21%. In A549 and 128-88T, vorinostat potentiated carboplatin induction of gamma-H2AX (a DNA damage marker) and increased α-tubulin acetylation (a marker for stabilized mictrotubules). In A549, combination of vorinostat with paclitaxel resulted in a synergistic increase in α-tubulin acetylation, which reversed upon drug wash-out. We conclude that vorinostat interacts favorably with carboplatin and paclitaxel in NSCLC cells, which may explain the provocative response observed in our clinical trial. This likely involves a vorinostat-mediated irreversible increase in DNA damage in the case of carboplatin and a reversible increase in microtubule stability in the case of paclitaxel.
doi:10.1002/ijc.24759
PMCID: PMC2795066  PMID: 19621389
Vorinostat; paclitaxel; carboplatin; histone deacetylase; non-small cell lung cancer
25.  MEK1/2 inhibitors and 17AAG synergize to kill human GI tumor cells in vitro via suppression of c-FLIP-s levels and activation of CD95 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2008;7(9):2633-2648.
Prior studies have noted that inhibitors of MEK1/2 enhanced geldanamycin lethality in malignant hematopoietic cells by promoting mitochondrial dysfunction. The present studies focused on defining the mechanism(s) by which these agents altered survival in carcinoma cells. MEK1/2 inhibitors (PD184352; AZD6244 (ARRY-142886)) interacted in a synergistic manner with geldanamycins (17AAG, 17DMAG) to kill hepatoma and pancreatic carcinoma cells that correlated with inactivation of ERK1/2 and AKT and with activation of p38 MAPK; p38 MAPK activation was ROS-dependent. Treatment of cells with MEK1/2 inhibitors and 17AAG reduced expression of c-FLIP-s that was mechanistically connected to loss of MEK1/2 and AKT function; inhibition of caspase 8 or over-expression of c-FLIP-s abolished cell killing by MEK1/2 inhibitors and 17AAG. Treatment of cells with MEK1/2 inhibitors and 17AAG caused a p38 MAPK-dependent plasma membrane clustering of CD95 without altering the levels or cleavage of FAS ligand. In parallel, treatment of cells with MEK1/2 inhibitors and 17AAG caused a p38 MAPK-dependent association of caspase 8 with CD95. Inhibition of p38 MAPK or knock down of BID, FADD or CD95 expression suppressed MEK1/2 inhibitor and 17AAG lethality. Similar correlative data were obtained using a xenograft flank tumor model system. Our data demonstrate that treatment of tumor cells with MEK1/2 inhibitors and 17AAG induces activation of the extrinsic pathway and that suppression of c-FLIP-s expression is crucial in transduction of the apoptotic signal from CD95 to promote cell death.
doi:10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-08-0400
PMCID: PMC2585522  PMID: 18790746
CD95; caspase; extrinsic; FLIP

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