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J Clin Invest. 2013 Jun;123(6):2616-28. doi: 10.1172/JCI64503. Epub 2013 May 1.

Efficacious proteasome/HDAC inhibitor combination therapy for primary effusion lymphoma.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, USA.


Primary effusion lymphoma (PEL) is a rare form of aggressive B cell lymphoma caused by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Current chemotherapy approaches result in dismal outcomes, and there is an urgent need for new PEL therapies. Previously, we established, in a direct xenograft model of PEL-bearing immune-compromised mice, that treatment with the proteasome inhibitor, bortezomib (Btz), increased survival relative to that after treatment with doxorubicin. Herein, we demonstrate that the combination of Btz with the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor suberoylanilidehydroxamic acid (SAHA, also known as vorinostat) potently reactivates KSHV lytic replication and induces PEL cell death, resulting in significantly prolonged survival of PEL-bearing mice. Importantly, Btz blocked KSHV late lytic gene expression, terminally inhibiting the full lytic cascade and production of infectious virus in vivo. Btz treatment led to caspase activation and induced DNA damage, as evidenced by the accumulation of phosphorylated γH2AX and p53. The addition of SAHA to Btz treatment was synergistic, as SAHA induced early acetylation of p53 and reduced interaction with its negative regulator MDM2, augmenting the effects of Btz. The eradication of KSHV-infected PEL cells without increased viremia in mice provides a strong rationale for using the proteasome/HDAC inhibitor combination therapy in PEL.

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