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J Neurooncol. 1998 Apr;37(2):97-108.

Inhibitory effects of phenylbutyrate on the proliferation, morphology, migration and invasiveness of malignant glioma cells.

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Department of Surgery, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL, USA.


The purpose of this study was to characterize the effects of sodium 4-phenylbutyrate (phenylbutyrate) on the proliferation, morphology, migration and invasiveness of malignant glioma cells in vitro. Phenylbutyrate is a novel differentiating and cytotoxic compound used clinically with low toxicity in the treatment of beta-thalassemia, sickle cell anemia and urea cycle disorders. Preliminary clinical trials testing phenylbutyrate as an anti-cancer agent have included patients with malignant glioma. However, little information is available regarding the effects of phenylbutyrate on glioma cells, particularly with respect to the expression of genes important in the pathogenesis of glial malignancy. In experiments reported here, glioma cell lines and explant cells from a tumor patient were exposed to 2, 4 and 8 mM phenylbutyrate and compared to untreated control cells. The effect on cellular proliferation was assessed using cell counts and DNA flow cytometry. Changes in morphology were evaluated using vimentin staining. Scratch and Matrigel assays were performed to assess changes in cellular migration and invasiveness. Finally, Northern blot analysis was used to study c-myc and urokinase expression. Phenylbutyrate was found to have dose-dependent inhibitory effects on glioma cell proliferation, morphology, migration, invasiveness and c-myc and urokinase expression. Mean growth-inhibitory (IC50) phenylbutyrate concentrations ranged from 0.5 mM for T98G cells to 5.0 mM for explant cells. Phenylbutyrate treatment reduced % S phase cells, increased % G0/G1 cells, and produced morphologic changes consistent with induction of differentiation. 24 hours of treatment with 4 mM phenylbutyrate resulted in a 50% reduction in migration and invasiveness. Northern blots showed a decrease in urokinase and c-myc expression at non-cytotoxic doses. We conclude that phenylbutyrate is a promising candidate compound for treating patients with malignant glioma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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