Histone deacetylase inhibitors enhance retinoid response in human breast cancer cell lines

Laura Emionite, Fabia Galmozzi, Myriam Grattarola, Francesco Boccardo, Laura Vergani, Salvatore Toma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Solid tumors develop resistance to retinoids during carcinogenesis. One of the strategies to overcome this resistance may include the combination of these molecules with other differentiating, cytotoxic or chromatin-remodelling agents. We analysed the anti-proliferative activity of two histone-deacetylase inhibitors (HDACIs), Trichostatin A (TSA) and sodium phenylbutyrate (PB), alone or combined with retinoids, all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and Ro 41-5253, on two human breast cancer cell lines: the hormone-dependent MCF-7 and the hormone-independent MDA-MB-231. These lines responded differently to retinoids: MCF-7 were sensitive, whilst MDA-MB-231 were rather resistant. When the retinoids were combined with HDACIs, these molecules potentiated the retinoid activity on growth inhibition, especially for the association Ro 41-5253 and TSA. By FACS analysis, we observed that the anti-proliferative effects were only partially due to pro-apopotic mechanisms, suggesting a cell-cycle block. The efficacy of the retinoids/HDACIs combinations could represent a new strategy in breast cancer chemotherapy, allowing inhibition of both ER+ and ER- cell populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4019-4024
Number of pages6
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004


  • Breast cancer
  • Histone deacetylase inhibitors
  • Retinoids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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