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Int J Oncol. 2012 Sep;41(3):1101-9. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2012.1534. Epub 2012 Jun 26.

Sirtinol, a class III HDAC inhibitor, induces apoptotic and autophagic cell death in MCF-7 human breast cancer cells.

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College of Pharmacy, Pusan National University, Busan 609-735, Republic of Korea.


Sirtuins (SIRTs), NAD+-dependent class III histone deacetylases (HDACs), play an important role in the regulation of cell division, survival and senescence. Although a number of effective SIRT inhibitors have been developed, little is known about the specific mechanisms of their anticancer activity. In this study, we investigated the anticancer effects of sirtinol, a SIRT inhibitor, on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Apoptotic and autophagic cell death were measured. Sirtinol significantly inhibited the proliferation of MCF-7 cells in a concentration-dependent manner. The IC50 values of sirtinol were 48.6 µM (24 h) and 43.5 µM (48 h) in MCF-7 cells. As expected, sirtinol significantly increased the acetylation of p53, which has been reported to be a target of SIRT1/2. Flow cyto-metry analysis revealed that sirtinol significantly increased the G1 phase of the cell cycle. The upregulation of Bax, downregulation of Bcl-2 and cytochrome c release into the cytoplasm, which are considered as mechanisms of apoptotic cell death, were observed in the MCF-7 cells treated with sirtinol. The annexin V-FITC assay was used to confirm sirtinol-induced apoptotic cell death. Furthermore, the expression of LC3-II, an autophagy-related molecule, was significantly increased in MCF-7 cells after sirtinol treatment. Autophagic cell death was confirmed by acridine orange and monodansylcadaverine (MDC) staining. Of note, pre-treatment with 3-methyladenine (3-MA) increased the sirtinol-induced MCF-7 cell cytotoxicity, which is associated with blocking autophagic cell death and increasing apoptotic cell death. Based on our results, the downregulation of SIRT1/2 expression may play an important role in the regulation of breast cancer cell death; thus, SIRT1/2 may be a novel molecular target for cancer therapy and these findings may provide a molecular basis for targeting SIRT1/2 in future cancer therapy.

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