Late autophagy inhibitor chloroquine improves efficacy of the histone deacetylase inhibitor SAHA and temozolomide in gliomas

Biochem Pharmacol. 2019 May;163:440-450. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2019.03.015. Epub 2019 Mar 13.


Glioblastoma multiforme is the most aggressive type of primary brain tumor associated with few therapeutic opportunities and poor prognosis. In this study, we evaluated the efficacy of combining temozolomide (TMZ) with suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) - a specific histone deacetylases inhibitor - in glioma models in vitro and in vivo. In glioma cell lines, combined TMZ/SAHA promoted more cytotoxicity, G2/M arrest and apoptosis than either drugs alone. G2/M arrest was detected as soon as 24 h post drug exposure and preceded apoptosis, which occurred from 72 h treatment. TMZ and SAHA, alone or combined, also stimulated autophagy as evaluated by means of acridine orange staining and immunodetection of LC3I-II conversion and p62/SQSTM1 degradation. Time-course of autophagy accompanied G2/M arrest and preceded apoptosis, and blockage of late steps of autophagy with chloroquine (CQ) augmented SAHA/TMZ toxicity leading to apoptosis. In orthotopic gliomas in vivo, combined SAHA/TMZ showed better antitumor efficacy than either drugs alone, and adding CQ to the regimen improved antiglioma effects of SAHA and TMZ monotherapies without further benefit on combined SAHA/TMZ. In summary, the herein presented data suggest that autophagy acts as a protective response that impairs efficacy of SAHA and TMZ. Inhibiting autophagy termination with CQ may offer means to improve antitumor effects of SAHA and TMZ in gliomas and possibly other cancers.

Keywords: Autophagy; Glioblastoma; HDAC inhibitor; Pre-clinical; Vorinostat.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antimalarials / administration & dosage
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Autophagy / drug effects
  • Beclin-1 / pharmacology
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chloroquine / administration & dosage
  • Chloroquine / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Humans
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Temozolomide / administration & dosage
  • Temozolomide / therapeutic use*
  • Vorinostat / administration & dosage
  • Vorinostat / therapeutic use*


  • Antimalarials
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Beclin-1
  • Vorinostat
  • Chloroquine
  • Temozolomide