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Cell Death Dis. 2015 Feb 19;6:e1657. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2015.24.

Selective inhibition of HDAC8 decreases neuroblastoma growth in vitro and in vivo and enhances retinoic acid-mediated differentiation.

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Clinical Cooperation Unit Pediatric Oncology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.
Department of Pediatric Surgery, Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Munich, Germany.
Department of Neuropathology, Institute for Pathology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacoepidemiology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.
Department of Biostatistics, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.
Ilmenau University of Technology, Institute for Micro- and Nanotechnologies, Ilmenau, Germany.
Department of Neuropathology, Institute of Pathology, Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, and Clinical Cooperation Unit Neuropathology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany.
1] Clinical Cooperation Unit Pediatric Oncology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany [2] Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Immunology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.


For differentiation-defective malignancies, compounds that modulate transcription, such as retinoic acid and histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, are of particular interest. HDAC inhibitors are currently under investigation for the treatment of a broad spectrum of cancer diseases. However, one clinical drawback is class-specific toxicity of unselective inhibitors, limiting their full anticancer potential. Selective targeting of individual HDAC isozymes in defined tumor entities may therefore be an attractive alternative treatment approach. We have previously identified HDAC family member 8 (HDAC8) as a novel target in childhood neuroblastoma. Using small-molecule inhibitors, we now demonstrate that selective inhibition of HDAC8 exhibits antineuroblastoma activity without toxicity in two xenograft mouse models of MYCN oncogene-amplified neuroblastoma. In contrast, the unselective HDAC inhibitor vorinostat was more toxic in the same models. HDAC8-selective inhibition induced cell cycle arrest and differentiation in vitro and in vivo. Upon combination with retinoic acid, differentiation was significantly enhanced, as demonstrated by elongated neurofilament-positive neurites and upregulation of NTRK1. Additionally, MYCN oncogene expression was downregulated in vitro and tumor cell growth was markedly reduced in vivo. Mechanistic studies suggest that cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) links HDAC8- and retinoic acid-mediated gene transcription. In conclusion, HDAC-selective targeting can be effective in tumors exhibiting HDAC isozyme-dependent tumor growth in vivo and can be combined with differentiation-inducing agents.

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