Human ovarian carcinoma cells: histone deacetylase inhibitors exhibit antiproliferative activity and potently induce apoptosis

Cancer. 2004 Dec 15;101(12):2760-70. doi: 10.1002/cncr.20709.


Background: Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACIs) can inhibit proliferation, stimulate apoptosis, and induce cell cycle arrest in malignant cells.

Methods: The authors investigated the effects of four HDACIs on nine ovarian carcinoma cell lines in vitro and in vivo. Ovarian carcinoma cells were treated with a variety of HDACIs, and their effects on cell growth, the cell cycle, apoptosis, and related events were investigated. The ability of valproic acid (VPA) to inhibit the growth of ovarian tumors in immunodeficient mice was also assessed.

Results: Clonogenic assays showed that all ovarian carcinoma cell lines were sensitive to the growth-inhibitory effects of the HDACIs. Cell cycle analysis indicated that their exposure to HDACIs decreased the proportion of cells in S phase and increased the proportion of cells in the G0/G1 and/or G2/M phases of the cell cycle. Terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated uridine triphosphate end-labeling assays demonstrated that HDACIs induced apoptosis, which occurred in concert with alterations in the expression of genes related to apoptosis, cell growth, and malignant phenotype, including the activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis revealed a notable increase in levels of acetylated histones associated with the p21 promoter after treatment with suberoylanilide bishydroxamine. In addition, in experiments involving nude mice, VPA significantly inhibited human ovarian tumor growth without toxic side effects.

Conclusions: The results of the current study suggest that HDACIs may be particularly effective in the treatment of ovarian tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Female
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors*
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Valproic Acid / therapeutic use


  • Cadherins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Chromatin
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histones
  • Valproic Acid
  • CASP3 protein, human
  • Casp3 protein, mouse
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases