The Open Leukemia Journal


ISSN: 1876-8164 ― Volume 5, 2013

Effects of Epigenetic Drugs (Vorinostat, Decitabine) on Metabolism-Related Pathway Factors in Leukemic Cells

Heidrun Karlic1, 2, Julia Varga1, 2, Roman Thaler3, Cornelia Berger1, Silvia Spitzer3, Michael Pfeilstöcker1, 2, 4, Klaus Klaushofer3, Franz Varga3, *
1 Ludwig Boltzmann Cluster Oncology, Vienna, Austria
2 Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Leukemia Research and Hematology, Hanusch Hospital, Vienna, Austria
3 Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Osteology at the Hanusch Hospital of WGKK and AUVA Trauma Centre Meidling. 4th Medical Department, Hanusch Hospital, Vienna, Austria
4 3rd Medical Department, Hanusch Hospital, Vienna, Austria


Novel tools for data-evaluation from gene-expression arrays allow analyses of biochemical pathways which may be influenced by treatment with epigenetic drugs which have originally been designed for re-activation of so-called tumour-suppressor genes that are known as key-molecules regulating differentiation or cell death in malignancy. Considering the fact that these processes are tightly associated with energy metabolism, this study evaluated the expression signature of prominently regulated pathways in the KG-1-leukemia cell line: Following a 3-day incubation, effects of pharmacologic concentrations from the histone-deacetylase inhibitor SAHA (suberoyl anilide hydroxamic acid, vorinostat) and the methylation-inhibitor desoxy-azacytidine (DAC) were comparatively analysed by transcriptional profiling (based on Affymetrix Human GeneChip Gene 1.0 ST microarrays) and quantitative real time PCR. Expression factors for pathways were calculated for comparative analyses. Epigenetic drugs SAHA and DAC had a downregulatory effect on metabolic pathway factors of carbohydrate metabolism and mitochondrial beta oxidation. Our data confirm SAHA-mediated downregulation of the histone deacetylase SIRT which regulates AKT-phosphatase. Associated pathways lead to regulation of numerous genes, including an upregulation of FOXO transcription factors. These regulatory networks are known for their crucial role in stem cell homeostasis and provide a mechanistic explanation for the fact that the number of SAHA-targeted genes (1392 up, 2651 down) exceeds the number of DAC-targeted genes (60 up, 15 down), besides known effects on cell-cycle-arrest and apoptosis induced by both drugs.

Thus, our data underline that epigenetic mechanisms are tightly associated with malignancy-associated metabolic control at least at 3 levels, starting from (i) glucose-uptake over (ii) mitochondrial pathways to (iii) AKT-PTEN-FOXO-signalling. All of them are known to be regulated by caloric restriction. We propose that these interactions should be carefully considered in clinical application, providing the basis for optimization of drug-combinations and complex treatment strategies

Keywords: Epigenetics, vorinostat, decitabine, energy metabolism, KG1-cells.

Article Information

Identifiers and Pagination:

Year: 2010
Volume: 3
First Page: 34
Last Page: 42
Publisher Id: TOLEUKEMIAJ-3-34
DOI: 10.2174/1876816401003010034

Article History:

Received Date: 3/2/2010
Revision Received Date: 25/3/2010
Acceptance Date: 25/3/2010
Electronic publication date: 17 /5/2010
Collection year: 2010

© Karlic et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Osteology at the Hanusch Hospital of WGKK and AUVA Trauma Centre Meidling. 4th Medical Department, Hanusch Hospital, Heinrich Collin Str. 30, 1140 Vienna, Austria; Tel: +431 9102186933l Fax: +431 9102186929; E-mail:

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