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Eur J Cancer. 2012 May;48(7):1096-107. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2011.11.009. Epub 2011 Dec 10.

Vorinostat/SAHA-induced apoptosis in malignant mesothelioma is FLIP/caspase 8-dependent and HR23B-independent.

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  • 1Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.



Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a rapidly fatal malignancy that is increasing in incidence. The caspase 8 inhibitor FLIP is an anti-apoptotic protein over-expressed in several cancer types including MPM. The histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor Vorinostat (SAHA) is currently being evaluated in relapsed mesothelioma. We examined the roles of FLIP and caspase 8 in regulating SAHA-induced apoptosis in MPM.


The mechanism of SAHA-induced apoptosis was assessed in 7 MPM cell lines and in a multicellular spheroid model. SiRNA and overexpression approaches were used, and cell death was assessed by flow cytometry, Western blotting and clonogenic assays.


RNAi-mediated FLIP silencing resulted in caspase 8-dependent apoptosis in MPM cell line models. SAHA potently down-regulated FLIP protein expression in all 7 MPM cell lines and in a multicellular spheroid model of MPM. In 6/7 MPM cell lines, SAHA treatment resulted in significant levels of apoptosis induction. Moreover, this apoptosis was caspase 8-dependent in all six sensitive cell lines. SAHA-induced apoptosis was also inhibited by stable FLIP overexpression. In contrast, down-regulation of HR23B, a candidate predictive biomarker for HDAC inhibitors, significantly inhibited SAHA-induced apoptosis in only 1/6 SAHA-sensitive MPM cell lines. Analysis of MPM patient samples demonstrated significant inter-patient variations in FLIP and caspase 8 expressions. In addition, SAHA enhanced cisplatin-induced apoptosis in a FLIP-dependent manner.


These results indicate that FLIP is a major target for SAHA in MPM and identifies FLIP, caspase 8 and associated signalling molecules as candidate biomarkers for SAHA in this disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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