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Biochem Pharmacol. 1996 Aug 23;52(4):659-67.

Activation of a human peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor by the antitumor agent phenylacetate and its analogs.

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Laboratory of Molecular Carcinogenesis, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The aromatic fatty acid phenylacetate and its analogs induce tumor cytostasis and differentiation in experimental models. Although the underlying mechanisms of action are not clear, effects on lipid metabolism are evident. We have now examined whether these compounds, structurally similar to the peroxisome proliferator clofibrate, affect the human peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (hPPAR), a homolog of the rodent PPAR alpha, a transcriptional factor regulating lipid metabolism and cell growth. Gene transfer experiments showed activation of hPPAR, evident by the increased expression of the reporter gene chloramphenicol acetyltransferase linked to PPAR-response element from either the rat acyl-CoA oxidase or rabbit CYP4A6 genes. The relative potency of tested drugs in the co-transfection assay was: 4-iodophenylbutyrate > 4-chlorophenylbutyrate > clofibrate > phenylbutyrate > naphthylacetate > 2,4-D > 4-chlorophenylacetate > phenylacetate >> indoleacetate. Phenylacetylglutamine, in which the carboxylic acid is blocked, was inactive. The ability of the aromatic fatty acids to activate PPAR was confirmed in vivo, as CYP4A mRNA levels increased in hepatocytes of treated rats. Further studies using human prostate carcinoma, melanoma, and glioblastoma cell lines showed a tight correlation between drug-induced cytostasis, increased expression of the endogenous hPPAR, and receptor activation documented in the gene-transfer model. These results identify phenylacetate and its analogs as a new class of aromatic fatty acids capable of activating hPPAR, and suggest that this nuclear receptor may mediate tumor cytostasis induced by these drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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