Phase 1 Study of Oral Abexinostat, a Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor, in Combination With Doxorubicin in Patients With Metastatic Sarcoma

Cancer. 2015 Apr 15;121(8):1223-30. doi: 10.1002/cncr.29175. Epub 2014 Dec 23.


Background: It has been demonstrated that several inhibitors of histone deacetylase (HDAC) can enhance chemotherapy-induced apoptosis and reduce sarcoma tumor volume in preclinical models. The authors sought to determine the maximum tolerated dose, pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics, safety, and toxicity of the HDAC inhibitor abexinostat (PCI-24781) when administered with doxorubicin to patients with metastatic sarcomas.

Methods: Participants were enrolled in a standard, phase 1, 3 + 3, dose-escalation study design. Abexinostat was administered on days 1 through 5 with 75 mg/m(2) of doxorubicin administered on day 4 of every 21-day cycle until patients developed disease progression or drug intolerance or reached a cumulative lifetime doxorubicin dose of 450 mg/m(2). Granulocyte-colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) support was provided at physician discretion on arm A and was provided to all participants in arm B. From 3 to 6 participants initially received abexinostat 30 mg/m(2) twice daily, and subsequent cohorts were administered doses of 15 mg/m(2), 45 mg/m(2), or 60 mg/m(2) twice daily. All patients without progressive disease after receiving a cumulative lifetime doxorubicin dose of 450 mg/m(2) were given the option to continue with abexinostat as a single agent until they developed disease progression.

Results: In total, 22 participants (10 who had previously experienced tumor growth after doxorubicin therapy) were enrolled (6 in arm A, 14 in arm B), 20 were evaluable for dose-limiting toxicity (DLT), and 17 were evaluable for radiologic response. In arm A, participants received abexinostat 15 mg/m(2) or 30 mg/m(2) twice daily. DLTs of grade 3 and 4 neutropenia were observed in 2 of 3 participants who received abexinostat 30 mg/m(2) twice daily. Neither of those patients received G-CSF prophylaxis. In arm B, participants received abexinostat at doses of 30 mg/m(2), 45 mg/m(2), or 60 mg/m(2) twice daily, all with mandated G-CSF support. Two DLTs were observed at the 60 mg/m(2) twice-daily dose (grade 3 infection, grade 4 thrombocytopenia). The pharmacokinetics of abexinostat were not affected by doxorubicin. HDAC activity, as measured by histone acetylation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, was maximally inhibited at the abexinostat 30 mg/m(2) twice-daily dose. Of the 17 participants who were evaluable for radiologic response, 1 patient had a partial response, 9 patients had stable disease, and 7 patients had progressive disease as their best response; and 8 patients completed ≥ 5 cycles. Three of those participants had stable disease as their most recent disease status when the current report was written. Four participants who continued on monotherapy remained in stable disease for a median of 9.8 weeks after completing doxorubicin. The most common toxicities were fatigue, thrombocytopenia, and anemia. No study-related deaths were observed.

Conclusions: The maximum tolerated dose for abexinostat was 45 mg/m(2) twice daily administered on days 1 through 5 when patients received doxorubicin 75 mg/m(2) on day 4 of a 3-week cycle and G-CSF support was mandated. Toxicities were manageable, and tumor responses were observed. Additional studies are needed to further define the specific contributions of HDAC inhibition in patients who receive doxorubicin for the treatment of metastatic sarcoma.

Keywords: abexinostat; doxorubicin; histone deacetylase; maximum tolerated dose; sarcoma.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Benzofurans / administration & dosage*
  • Benzofurans / adverse effects
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / administration & dosage
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hydroxamic Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Hydroxamic Acids / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Maximum Tolerated Dose
  • Middle Aged
  • Sarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Benzofurans
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Hydroxamic Acids
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Doxorubicin
  • abexinostat