The histone deacetylase inhibitor suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid induces growth inhibition and enhances gemcitabine-induced cell death in pancreatic cancer

Nichole Boyer Arnold, Nohea Arkus, Jason Gunn, Murray Korc

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Purpose: Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive human malignancy that is generally refractory to chemotherapy. Histone deacetylase inhibitors are novel agents that modulate cell growth and survival. In this study, we sought to determine whether a relatively new histone deacetylase inhibitor, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), inhibits pancreatic cancer cell growth. Experimental Design: The effects of SAHA on the growth of three pancreatic cancer cell lines (BxPC3, COLO-357, and PANC-1) were examined with respect to cell cycle progression, p21 induction and localization, and interactions with the nucleoside analogue gemcitabine. Results: SAHA induced a G1 cell cycle arrest in BxPC-3 cells and COLO-357 cells but not in PANC-1 cells. This arrest was dependent, in part, on induction of p21 by SAHA, as p21 was not induced in PANC-1 cells, and knockdown of p21 using small interfering RNA oligonucleotides nearly completely suppressed the effects of SAHA on cell cycle arrest in COLO-357 and partly attenuated the effects of SAHA in BxPC-3. COLO-357 and BxPC-3 cells, but not PANC-1 cells, were also sensitive to gemcitabine. In the gemcitabine-resistant PANC-1 cells, a 48-h cotreatment with SAHA rendered the cells sensitive to the inhibitory and proapoptotic effects of gemcitabine. An additive effect on growth inhibition by SAHA and gemcitabine was observed in COLO-357 and BxPC-3 cells. Moreover, analysis of p21 distribution in COLO-357 cells revealed that SAHA induced the cytoplasmic localization of both p21 and phospho-p21. Conclusions: These data indicate that SAHA exerts proapoptotic effects in pancreatic cancer cells, in part, by up-regulating p21 and sequestering it in the cytoplasm, raising the possibility that SAHA may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-26
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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