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J Invest Dermatol. 2005 Nov;125(5):1045-52.

Selective induction of apoptosis by histone deacetylase inhibitor SAHA in cutaneous T-cell lymphoma cells: relevance to mechanism of therapeutic action.

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Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), an orally administered inhibitor of histone deacetylases, is currently in phase II clinical trials for cutaneous T cell lymphomas (CTCL), but the mechanism of SAHA action is unknown. In this study, we investigated the anti-tumor effects of SAHA in CTCL cell lines and freshly isolated peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) from CTCL patients with high percentage of circulating malignant T cells. Three cell lines (MJ, Hut78, and HH) and PBL from 11 patients and three healthy donors were treated with SAHA (1, 2.5, and 5 microM) for 24 and/or 48 h. Apoptosis was determined by flow cytometry analysis of sub-G1 hypodiploid nuclei and/or annexin V binding populations. Acetylated histones and apoptosis-associated proteins were detected by Western blotting. SAHA at 1-5 microM for 24 and 48 h induced apoptosis in a concentration- and time-dependent manner in three cell lines: MJ (0%-7% and 1%-32%), Hut78 (4%-36% and 5%-54%), and HH (4%-67% and 8%-81%). SAHA at 1-5 muM for 48 h also induced more apoptosis of patients' PBL than healthy donors' (15%-32%versus 6%-13%, p < 0.05). SAHA treatment caused an accumulation of acetylated histones (H2B, H3, and H4), an increase of p21(WAF1) and bax proteins, a decrease of Stat6 and phospho-Stat6 proteins, and activation of caspase-3 in CTCL cells. Our data suggest that selective induction of malignant T cell apoptosis and modulation of acetylated histones, p21(WAF1), bax, Stat6, and caspase-3 may underlie the therapeutic action of SAHA in CTCL patients.

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