Nephrotoxicity of epigenetic inhibitors used for the treatment of cancer

N. E. Scholpa, R. T. Kolli, M. Moore, R. D. Arnold, T. C. Glenn, B. S. Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This study determined the anti-neoplastic activity and nephrotoxicity of epigenetic inhibitors in vitro. The therapeutic efficacy of epigenetic inhibitors was determined in human prostate cancer cells (PC-3 and LNCaP) using the DNA methyltransferase inhibitor 5-aza-2ʹ-deoxycytidine (5-Aza) and the histone deacetylase inhibitor trichostatin A (TSA). Cells were also treated with carbamazepine (CBZ), an anti-convulsant with histone deacetylase inhibitor-like properties. 5-Aza, TSA or CBZ alone did not decrease MTT staining in PC-3 or LNCaP cells after 48 h. In contrast, docetaxel, a frontline chemotherapeutic induced concentration-dependent decreases in MTT staining. Pretreatment with 5-Aza or TSA increased docetaxel-induced cytotoxicity in LNCaP cells, but not PC-3 cells. TSA pretreatment also increased cisplatin-induced toxicity in LNCaP cells. Carfilzomib (CFZ), a protease inhibitor approved for the treatment of multiple myeloma had minimal effect on LNCaP cell viability, but reduced MTT staining 50% in PC-3 cells compared to control, and pretreatment with 5-Aza further enhanced toxicity. Treatment of normal rat kidney (NRK) and human embryonic kidney 293 (HEK293) cells with the same concentrations of epigenetic inhibitors used in prostate cancer cells significantly decreased MTT staining in all cell lines after 48 h. Interestingly, we found that the toxicity of epigenetic inhibitors to kidney cells was dependent on both the compound and the stage of cell growth. The effect of 5-Aza and TSA on DNA methyltransferase and histone deacetylase activity, respectively, was confirmed by assessing the methylation and acetylation of the CDK inhibitor p21. Collectively, these data show that combinatorial treatment with epigenetic inhibitors alters the efficacy of chemotherapeutics in cancer cells in a compound- and cell-specific manner; however, this treatment also has the potential to induce nephrotoxic cell injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-29
Number of pages9
JournalChemico-Biological Interactions
StatePublished - Oct 25 2016


  • Epigenetic inhibitors
  • Kidney cells
  • Nephrotoxicity
  • Prostate cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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