Romidepsin and azacitidine synergize in their epigenetic modulatory effects to induce apoptosis in CTCL

Sima Rozati, Phil F. Cheng, Daniel S. Widmer, Kazuyasu Fujii, Mitchell P. Levesque, Reinhard Dummer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCL) are a heterogeneous group of malignancies that despite available therapies commonly relapse. The emergence of combination epigenetic therapies in other hematologic malignancies have made investigation of such combinations in CTCL a priority. Here, we explore the synergistic antiproliferative effects of romidepsin, an HDAC inhibitor, and azacitidine, a demethylating agent, combination in CTCL. Experimental Design: The growth inhibition under combination treatment and single agent was explored by the MTT cell viability assay and the Annexin V/propidium iodide (PI) apoptosis assay in different CTCL cell lines and tumor cells derived from Sezary syndrome patients. Quantitative analysis of a dose-effect relationship of romidepsin and azacitidine was done by the CompuSyn software. Investigation of mechanism of action was performed by flow cytometry, immunoblotting, qRT-PCR arrays, and chromatin immunoprecipitation. Global CpG methylation sequencing was utilized to study genome methylation alteration under the treatment modalities. Results: The combination of romidepsin and azacitidine exerts synergistic antiproliferative effects and induction of apoptosis involving activation of the caspase cascade in CTCL cell lines and tumor cells derived from Sézary syndrome patients. We identified genes that were selectively induced by the combination treatment, such as the tumor suppressor gene RhoB that is linked to enhanced histone acetylation at its promoter region in parallel with pronounced expression of p21. Global CpG methylation sequencing in a CTCL cell line and tumor cells demonstrated a subset of genes with a unique change in methylation profile in the combination treatment. Conclusions: The synergistic antiproliferative effects of romidepsin and azacitidine combination treatment justify further exploration in clinical trials for advanced CTCL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2020-2031
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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