The heat shock protein antagonist 17-AAG potentiates the activity of enzastaurin against malignant human glioma cells

Cancer Lett. 2008 Sep 8;268(1):46-55. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2008.03.039. Epub 2008 May 6.


Recent studies have suggested that the proliferation of malignant gliomas may result from activation of protein kinase C (PKC)-mediated pathways. Enzastaurin (LY317615), an acyclic bisindolylmaleimide, is an oral inhibitor of PKCbeta as well as other isoforms. The initial objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of enzastaurin in a series of malignant human glioma cell lines with diverse genomic alterations. Although enzastaurin independently produced a dose-dependent inhibition of cellular proliferation and decreased cell viability in each of the glioma cell lines examined, and partially down-regulated Akt and GSK3beta phosphorylation, median effective concentrations were at the upper limits of, or above, the clinically achievable range in all cell lines tested. We therefore examined whether the efficacy of enzastaurin could be enhanced by combination with the HSP90 antagonist, 17-AAG, which inhibits Akt and other signaling intermediates by a distinct mechanism. In comparison to the effect of enzastaurin alone, combination of enzastaurin with 17-AAG led to marked enhancement of antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects. Simultaneous exposure to both agents significantly increased the release of cytochrome c, as well as caspase 3 activation, Bax cleavage, and inhibition of Akt phosphorylation. Cells exposed to enzastaurin and 17-AAG also displayed a significant reduction in cell cycle regulatory proteins, such as CDK4 and CDK6. Taken together, these findings suggest that the efficacy of enzastaurin can be potentiated by the addition of 17-AAG, and indicate that combining molecularly targeted therapies may provide a more effective strategy than single-agent therapy to treat patients with malignant gliomas.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Benzoquinones / pharmacology*
  • Caspase 3 / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cytochromes c / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation
  • Drug Synergism
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Indoles / pharmacology*
  • Lactams, Macrocyclic / pharmacology*
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation


  • Benzoquinones
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Indoles
  • Lactams, Macrocyclic
  • tanespimycin
  • Cytochromes c
  • Oncogene Protein v-akt
  • Caspase 3
  • enzastaurin