In vitro and in vivo activity of the nuclear factor-kappaB inhibitor sulfasalazine in human glioblastomas

Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Aug 15;10(16):5595-603. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-03-0392.


Glioblastomas, the most common primary brain cancers, respond poorly to current treatment modalities and carry a dismal prognosis. In this study, we demonstrated that the transcription factor nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB is constitutively activated in glioblastoma surgical samples, primary cultures, and cell lines and promotes their growth and survival. Sulfasalazine, an anti-inflammatory drug that specifically inhibits the activation of NF-kappaB, blocked the cell cycle and induced apoptosis in several glioblastoma cell lines and primary cultures, as did gene therapy with a vector encoding a super-repressor of NF-kappaB. In vivo, sulfasalazine also significantly inhibited the growth of experimental human glioblastomas in nude mice brains. Given the documented safety of sulfasalazine in humans, these results may lead the way to a new class of glioma treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / toxicity
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy
  • Glioblastoma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • NF-kappa B / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Sulfasalazine / toxicity*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • NF-kappa B
  • Sulfasalazine