Nanomolar concentrations of epothilone D inhibit the proliferation of glioma cells and severely affect their tubulin cytoskeleton

J Neurooncol. 2003 Nov;65(2):99-106. doi: 10.1023/b:neon.0000003679.40609.63.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential effects of epothilones (EPOs), a new class of microtubule stabilizing cytotoxic drugs, on glioma cells in vitro. The effects of 1, 10 and 100 nM concentrations of EPO D in four malignant human glioma cell lines were measured using a microtiter-tetrazolium assay. Besides the cell lines U87MG, U138MG and LN405, one cell line was used, which had been derived from a recurrent and therapy-resistant glioblastoma in our laboratory. In addition, changes of the cell morphology were followed by light microscopy and changes in the microtubule and actin cytoskeleton were visualized by a confocal laser microscope. In all four human glioma cell lines, 10 and 100 nM concentrations of the drug, applied for 96 h, lead to a highly significant decrease in the viable cell number (p < 0.001). A mean reduction of the viable cell number between 30% and 40% (60% and 90%) was observed for a drug concentration of 10 nM (100 nM). A round cell morphology occured in most EPO treated cells and the organized network of microtubules was shrunk in these round cells. The tubulin immunostaining now appeared amorphous and was restricted to small perinuclear regions. Large actin filaments also disappeared, but actin staining was present in the whole cytosplasm. These results prove that EPOs have antiproliferative effects in glioma cells and affect their tubulin cytoskeleton, as it was previously observed in several types of carcinoma cells.

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cytoskeleton / drug effects*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Epothilones / pharmacology*
  • Glioma / metabolism
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Tubulin / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects


  • Actins
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Epothilones
  • Tubulin
  • desoxyepothilone B