Survivin knockdown and concurrent 4-HPR treatment controlled human glioblastoma in vitro and in vivo

Neuro Oncol. 2010 Nov;12(11):1088-101. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/noq079. Epub 2010 Aug 2.


Survivin is highly expressed in most cancers, including glioblastoma, and it plays a significant role in inhibiting apoptosis and promoting tumor growth. Treatment of cancer cells with N-(4-hydroxyphenyl) retinamide (4-HPR) induces apoptosis through destabilization of mitochondrial membrane and activation of caspase-mediated apoptotic pathways. We studied the efficacy of a combination of survivin knockdown and 4-HPR treatment to induce apoptosis and inhibit invasion, angiogenesis, and growth of human glioblastomas in vitro and in vivo. Using a plasmid encoding survivin shRNA, we downregulated survivin in glioblastoma U251MG and U118MG cells and simultaneously treated with 1 µM 4-HPR for 48 hours. Cells following treatments were subjected to the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) and invasion assays. In vivo angiogenesis and tumor regression studies were performed in nude mice. TUNEL assay demonstrated apoptosis in more than 80% of cells after survivin knockdown and 4-HPR treatment. Matrigel invasion assays demonstrated marked decreases in tumor cell invasion. In vivo angiogenesis studies depicted a remarkable inhibition of neovascularization due to the knockdown of survivin and 4-HPR treatment. Imaging of intracerebral tumorigenesis and longitudinal studies on subcutaneous solid tumor formation showed dramatic decreases in tumorigenesis and solid tumor progression, respectively, after treatment with the combination. Studies to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of the inhibition of angiogenesis and tumor regression demonstrated marked decreases in proliferating cell nuclear antigen, metalloproteinase-9, vascular endothelial growth factor, basic fibroblast growth factor, and CD31 in solid tumors. Our data demonstrated that survivin knockdown and concurrent 4-HPR treatment could be a novel therapeutic strategy for controlling growth of human glioblastomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Fenretinide / pharmacology*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Genetic Therapy / methods*
  • Glioblastoma / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Survivin
  • Transfection
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BIRC5 protein, human
  • Inhibitor of Apoptosis Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Survivin
  • Fenretinide