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Volume 2013, Article ID 608964, 11 pages
Research Article

Sustained Low-Dose Treatment with the Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor LBH589 Induces Terminal Differentiation of Osteosarcoma Cells

1Centre for Cancer Research, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, 27-31 Wright St, Clayton, VIC 3168, Australia
2Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, St Andrews Place, East Melbourne, VIC 3002, Australia
3Andrew Love Cancer Centre, Deakin University, Barwon Health, 70 Swanston St, Geelong, VIC 3220, Australia

Received 31 December 2012; Accepted 25 January 2013

Academic Editor: C. Fisher

Copyright © 2013 Jason E. Cain et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) were identified nearly four decades ago based on their ability to induce cellular differentiation. However, the clinical development of these compounds as cancer therapies has focused on their capacity to induce apoptosis in hematologic and lymphoid malignancies, often in combination with conventional cytotoxic agents. In many cases, HDACi doses necessary to induce these effects result in significant toxicity. Since osteosarcoma cells express markers of terminal osteoblast differentiation in response to DNA methyltransferase inhibitors, we reasoned that the epigenetic reprogramming capacity of HDACi might be exploited for therapeutic benefit. Here, we show that continuous exposure of osteosarcoma cells to low concentrations of HDACi LBH589 (Panobinostat) over a three-week period induces terminal osteoblast differentiation and irreversible senescence without inducing cell death. Remarkably, transcriptional profiling revealed that HDACi therapy initiated gene signatures characteristic of chondrocyte and adipocyte lineages in addition to marked upregulation of mature osteoblast markers. In a mouse xenograft model, continuous low dose treatment with LBH589 induced a sustained cytostatic response accompanied by induction of mature osteoblast gene expression. These data suggest that the remarkable capacity of osteosarcoma cells to differentiate in response to HDACi therapy could be exploited for therapeutic benefit without inducing systemic toxicity.