Sodium butyrate and tributyrin induce in vivo growth inhibition and apoptosis in human prostate cancer

Br J Cancer. 2004 Jan 26;90(2):535-41. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6601510.


Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACs) are known to exhibit antiproliferative effects on various carcinoma cells. In this study, the in vivo efficiency of two HDACs, sodium butyrate and tributyrin, on prostate cancer growth inhibition were investigated. To gain an insight into the possible underlying pathways, cell culture experiments were performed focusing on the expression of p21, Rb and c-myc. For in vivo testing, prostate cancer cell lines (PC3 and TSU-Pr1) were seeded on the chorioallantois membrane (CAM) and implanted in a xenograft model using nude mice. Standard Western blot analysis was performed for protein expression of p21, Rb and c-myc in HDAC-treated vs untreated prostate cancer cells. Both sodium butyrate and tributyrin had a considerable treatment effect on microtumours on the chicken egg at already very low concentrations of 0.1 mM. Tributyrin-treated tumours showed the strongest effect with 38% apoptotic nuclei in the prostate cancer cell line PC3. In the mouse model, there was almost no difference between sodium butyrate and tributyrin. In untreated animals the tumours were almost double the size 4 weeks after implantation. Tumours of the treatment groups had a significantly lower percentage of Ki-67-positive-stained nuclei. As demonstrated by Western blot analysis, these effects seem to be independent of p53 status and a pathway via p21-Rb-c-myc is possibly involved. In this study we have demonstrated a substantial in vivo treatment effect, which can be induced by the application of sodium butyrate or the orally applicable tributyrin in human prostate cancer. The given results may provide the rationale to apply these drugs in well-controlled clinical trials in patients being at high risk of recurrence after specific therapy or in patients with locally or distant advanced prostate cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Butyrates / pharmacology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc / biosynthesis
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras) / biosynthesis
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / biosynthesis
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Triglycerides / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Butyrates
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Retinoblastoma Protein
  • Triglycerides
  • HRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • tributyrin