, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 1715-1724
Date: 29 Mar 2011

Synergetic effects of DNA demethylation and histone deacetylase inhibition in primary rat hepatocytes

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Both, DNA methylation and histone deacetylation play a crucial role in cancer development by silencing the expression of specific tumour suppressor genes. Several studies describe the use of combinations of DNA methyltransferase inhibitors (DNMT-i) and histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDAC-i) as an improved strategy to treat neoplasms. However, no information is available concerning their biological impact on healthy, non-malignant cells, including hepatocytes. Therefore, the effects of the combination of the DNMT-i decitabine (DAC) with the HDAC-i 6-[(4-pyrrolidine-1-ylbenzoyl) amino] hexanoic acid hydroxamate (AN-8) on cell proliferation and differentiation were examined in primary rat hepatocyte cultures. We found that, upon simultaneous exposure of the cells to both compounds, a synergetic anti-proliferative outcome was achieved. This inhibition of DNA synthesis was accompanied by a reduced expression of cyclin-dependent kinase 1 (cdk1), a key cell cycle marker that controls the S/G2/M transition. Compared to exposure of the cells to each agent separately, the combination of lower concentrations of both DAC and AN-8 promoted the maintenance of the differentiated phenotype of the cells as a function of culture time. The functionality of the hepatocytes was evidenced by an increased expression of the phase I biotransformation enzyme cytochrome P 450 (CYP) 1A1 and albumin secretion capacity when both agents were used in combination.