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Abstract

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a particularly lethal form of cancer, yet effective therapeutic options for advanced HCC are limited. The poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs) are emerging to be among the most promising targets in cancer therapy, and sensitivity to PARP inhibition depends on homologous recombination (HR) deficiency and inhibition of HDAC activity blocks the HR pathway. Here, we tested the hypothesis that cotargeting both enzymatic activities could synergistically inhibit HCC growth and defined the molecular determinants of sensitivity to both enzyme inhibitors. We discovered that HCC cells have differential sensitivity to the HDAC inhibitor suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) and PARP inhibitor olaparib, and identified one pair of cell lines, termed SNU-398 and SNU-449, with sensitive versus resistant phenotype to both enzyme inhibitors, respectively. Coadministration of SAHA and olaparib synergistically inhibited the growth of SNU-398 but not SNU-449 cells, which was associated with increased apoptosis and accumulated unrepaired DNA damage. Multiple lines of evidence demonstrate that the hepatic fibrosis/hepatic stellate cell activation may be an important genetic determinant of cellular sensitivity to both enzymatic inhibitors, and coordinate activation or inactivation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) and cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-mediated signaling pathways are involved in cell response to SAHA and olaparib treatment. Conclusion: These findings suggest that combination therapy with both enzyme inhibitors may be a strategy for therapy of sensitive HCC cells, and identification of these novel molecular determinants may eventually guide the optimal use of PARP and HDAC inhibitors in the clinic. (HEPATOLOGY 2012;55:1840–1851)