Synergistic antitumor interaction between valproic acid, capecitabine and radiotherapy in colorectal cancer: critical role of p53

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Recurrence with distant metastases has become the predominant pattern of failure in locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC), thus the integration of new antineoplastic agents into preoperative fluoropyrimidine-based chemo-radiotherapy represents a clinical challenge to implement an intensified therapeutic strategy. The present study examined the combination of the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi) valproic acid (VPA) with fluoropyrimidine-based chemo-radiotherapy on colorectal cancer (CRC) cells.

METHODS: HCT-116 (p53-wild type), HCT-116 p53-/-(p53-null), SW620 and HT29 (p53-mutant) CRC cell lines were used to assess the antitumor interaction between VPA and capecitabine metabolite 5'-deoxy-5-fluorouridine (5'-DFUR) in combination with radiotherapy and to evaluate the role of p53 in the combination treatment. Effects on proliferation, clonogenicity and apoptosis were evaluated, along with γH2AX foci formation as an indicator for DNA damage.

RESULTS: Combined treatment with equipotent doses of VPA and 5'-DFUR resulted in synergistic effects in CRC lines expressing p53 (wild-type or mutant). In HCT-116 p53-/-cells we observed antagonist effects. Radiotherapy further potentiated the antiproliferative, pro-apoptotic and DNA damage effects induced by 5'-DFUR/VPA combination in p53 expressing cells.

CONCLUSIONS: These results highlighted the role of VPA as valuable candidate to be added to preoperative chemo-radiotherapy in LARC. On these bases we launched the ongoing phase I/II study of VPA and short-course radiotherapy plus capecitabine as preoperative treatment in low-moderate risk rectal cancer (V-shoRT-R3).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 6 2017



  • Journal Article

Cite this