Phenylbutyrate and Phenylacetate Induce Differentiation and Inhibit Proliferation of Human Medulloblastoma Cells

Xiao Nan Li, Suhag Parikh, Qin Shu, Hye Lim Jung, Chi Wan Chow, Laszlo Perlaky, Hon Chiu Eastwood Leung, Jack Su, Susan Blaney, Ching C. Lau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Purpose: Phenylbutyrate (PB) and phenylacetate (PA) have antiproliferative and differentiation-inducing effects in malignant tumors, and had been evaluated in Phase I/II clinical trials. This study was undertaken to evaluate their antitumor activities in medulloblastomas. Experimental Design: The biological effects of PB and PA, ranging from 0.1 mM to 3 mM, on two medulloblastoma cell lines (DAOY and D283-MED) were examined using various long-term in vitro and in vivo assays for morphology, proliferation, differentiation, anchorage-independent growth, apoptosis, and tumorigenicity. Results: PB and PA can both induce morphological changes and suppress proliferation in a time- and dose-dependent manner. These effects were more pronounced with PB and became irreversible in D283-MED cells after continuous exposure to 3 mM PB for 28 days. Both PB and PA were able to increase expression of glial marker glial fibriliary acidic protein and neuronal marker synaptophysin in two cell lines. For anchorage-independent growth, PB showed a more significant suppression than PA in D283-MED cells. PB caused more pronounced cell cycle arrest and remarkably reduced tumorigenicity in D283-MED cells than in DAOY cells. Apoptosis was readily induced in D283-MED cells with either low dose of PB or short-term treatment. In contrast, much higher concentrations of PB or longer treatment were required to achieve similar effect with DAOY cells. PB induced increased histones H3 acetylation in both cell lines, but histone H4 acetylation was only observed in D283-MED cells. Conclusions: PB, through induction of hyperacetylation of histone H3 and H4, is a much more potent antitumor agent than PA. 283-MED cells are more responsive to PB than DAOY cells, which may be dependent on their original state of differentiation as well as the changes of histone H4 acetylation status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1150-1159
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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