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Int J Cancer. 2007 Aug 1;121(3):656-65.

Histone deacetylase inhibitor, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (Vorinostat, SAHA) profoundly inhibits the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells.

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Division of Hematology/Oncology, UCLA School of Medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


Tumor suppressor genes are often silenced in human cancer; this can occur by transcriptional repression by deacetylation in the promoter regions, mediated by histone deacetylase (HDAC). HDAC inhibitors can block cancer cell growth by restoring expression of tumor suppressor genes. In this study, we investigated the effects of a HDAC inhibitor, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) on pancreatic cancer cells. SAHA inhibited the growth of 6 pancreatic cancer cell lines in a dose-dependent manner as measured by MTT and clonogenic assays (ED(50) approximately 10(-6) M) associated with induction of apoptosis, G2 cell cycle arrest and also induced differentiation as indicated by morphology and increased expression of cytokeratin 7. It increased expression of p21(WAF1) (independent of the mutational status of p53), C/EBPalpha, RARalpha and E-cadherin; these genes have been associated with decreased proliferation in other cancers. SAHA decreased cyclin B1 expression; this cyclin normally promotes progression through G2 of the cell cycle. SAHA mediated acetylation of histone H3 globally, as well as, associated with the p21(WAF1) promoter, as measured by chromatin immunoprecipitation. SAHA also decreased levels of c-myc and cyclin D1, independent of an active beta-catenin pathway. In further studies, the combination of SAHA and an inhibitor of DNA methylation, 5-Aza-2'-deoxycytidine, had an enhanced antiproliferative effect on pancreatic cancer cells. In summary, SAHA inhibited the growth of human pancreatic cancer cells by inducing apoptosis, differentiation and cell cycle arrest, as well as increase in the expression of several tumor suppressor genes. SAHA is a novel, promising therapeutic agent for human pancreatic cancers.

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