Sodium valproate inhibits in vivo growth of human neuroblastoma cells

Anticancer Drugs. 1997 Nov;8(10):958-63. doi: 10.1097/00001813-199711000-00007.


Sodium valproate (VPA) belongs to the group of simple branched-chain fatty acids and due its anticonvulsive activity is broadly applied in the treatment of epilepsy. We previously showed that VPA is able to induce cellular differentiation, to enhance immunogenicity and to inhibit proliferation of human neuroblastoma (NB) cells in vitro. Furthermore, we demonstrated that VPA inhibits proliferation, enhances neural cell adhesion molecule expression and decreases CD44 expression of human and rat glioma cells in vitro. In the present study we investigated the antitumoral effects of VPA on established human NB xenografts from UKF-NB-3 human NB cells in athymic (nude) mice. When the animals developed s.c. tumors of about 100 mm3 volume they were treated with 400 or 200 mg/kg/day VPA i.p. At the end of the treatment period (40 days) tumor volumes in animals treated with 400 and 200 mg/kg VPA were about 4- (p < 0.0001) and 2-fold (p < 0.0005) smaller than in the saline-treated control group, respectively. Histological examination of the remnant tumors of treated animals revealed induction of differentiation by induction of stroma-rich tumors and nodules that contained elongated NB cells. Pyknotic nuclei and apoptotic bodies indicated induction of apoptosis. We conclude that VPA is able to abrogate NB growth in vivo and may therefore be useful in the treatment of NB patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neuroblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Neuroblastoma / pathology
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Valproic Acid / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Valproic Acid