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J Neurochem. 1996 Feb;66(2):710-6.

Lipid metabolism as a target for brain cancer therapy: synergistic activity of lovastatin and sodium phenylacetate against human glioma cells.

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Clinical Pharmacology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


Malignant gliomas, the most common form of primary brain tumors, are highly dependent on the mevalonate (MVA) pathway for the synthesis of lipid moieties critical to cell replication. Human glioblastoma cells were found to be uniquely vulnerable to growth arrest by lovastatin, a competitive inhibitor of the enzyme regulating MVA synthesis, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase. The sodium salt of phenylacetic acid (NaPA), an inhibitor of MVA-pyrophosphate decarboxylase, the enzyme that controls MVA use, acted synergistically with lovastatin to suppress malignant growth. When used at pharmacologically attainable concentrations, the two compounds induced profound cytostasis and loss of malignant properties such as invasiveness and expression of the transforming growth factor-beta 2 gene, coding for a potent immunosuppressive cytokine. Supplementation with exogenous ubiquinone, an end product of the MVA pathway, failed to rescue the cells, suggesting that decreased synthesis of intermediary products are responsible for the antitumor effects observed. In addition to blocking the MVA pathway, lovastatin alone and in combination with NaPA increased the expression of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor, a transcription factor implicated in the control of lipid metabolism, cell growth, and differentiation. Our results indicate that targeting lipid metabolism with lovastatin, used alone or in combination with the aromatic fatty acid NaPA, may offer a novel approach to the treatment of malignant gliomas.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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