The histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat selectively sensitizes fibrosarcoma cells to chemotherapy

Erik R. Sampson, Vinit Amin, Edward M. Schwarz, Regis J. O'Keefe, Randy N. Rosier

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22 Scopus citations


Soft tissue sarcoma (STS) is a rare malignancy that is generally resistant to chemotherapy. We investigated the ability of the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat to sensitize STS cells versus normal fibroblasts to chemotherapy. Fibrosarcoma, leiomyosarcoma, and liposarcoma cells and normal fibroblasts were treated with vorinostat to determine effects on proliferation and basal apoptosis as measured by total cell number and cleaved caspase 3 staining. Effects on histone deacetylases (HDAC) activity were confirmed by Western blotting for acetylated histone H3. A clinically relevant dose of vorinostat that had no effect on basal apoptosiswas selected to examine altered sensitivity to doxorubicin. The effects of vorinostat, doxorubicin, or the combination on fibrosarcoma growth in vivo were determined in a xenograft model. Tumor volume was measured biweekly and HDAC activity and cell death were assessed by immunohistochemical analysis of acetylated histone H3, cleaved caspase 3, and TUNEL staining. Vorinostat inhibited proliferation and induced histone acetylation without affecting basal apoptosis levels. Combined treatment with vorinostat and doxorubicin synergistically induced apoptosis in vitro in fibrosarcoma but not leiomyosarcoma, liposarcoma, or normal fibroblasts. In nude mice, the combination of vorinostat and doxorubicin inhibited fibrosarcoma xenograft growth further than either agent alone. Cell death, as measured by cleaved caspase 3 and TUNEL staining, was greatest in xenografts from mice treated with vorinostat and doxorubicin. Vorinostat inhibits growth and induces chemosensitivity in fibrosarcoma cells in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that the combination of vorinostat and chemotherapy may represent a novel treatment option for this STS subtype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-632
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Chemotherapy
  • Histone deacetylase inhibitor
  • Soft tissue sarcoma
  • Vorinostat
  • Xenograft


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