Background: The histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat is a candidate radiosensitizer in locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Radiosensitivity is critically influenced by hypoxia; hence, it is important to evaluate the efficacy of potential radiosensitizers under variable tissue oxygenation. Since fluoropyrimidine-based chemoradiotherapy (CRT) is the only clinically validated regimen in LARC, efficacy in combination with this established regimen should be assessed in preclinical models before a candidate drug enters clinical trials.
Methods: Radiosensitization by vorinostat under hypoxia was studied in four colorectal carcinoma cell lines and in one colorectal carcinoma xenograft model by analysis of clonogenic survival and tumor growth delay, respectively. Radiosensitizing effects of vorinostat in combination with capecitabine were assessed by evaluation of tumor growth delay in two colorectal carcinoma xenografts models.
Results: Under hypoxia, radiosensitization by vorinostat was demonstrated in vitro in terms of decreased clonogenicity and in vivo as inhibition of tumor growth. Adding vorinostat to capecitabine-based CRT increased radiosensitivity of xenografts in terms of inhibited tumor growth.
Conclusions: Vorinostat sensitized colorectal carcinoma cells to radiation under hypoxia in vitro and in vivo and improved therapeutic efficacy in combination with capecitabine-based CRT in vivo. The results encourage implementation of vorinostat into CRT in LARC trials.