Immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs) thalidomide, lenalidomide (Len) and pomalidomide trigger anti-tumor activities in multiple myeloma (MM) by targetting cereblon and thereby impacting IZF1/3, c-Myc and IRF4. Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) also downregulate c-Myc. We therefore determined whether IMiDs with HDACi trigger significant MM cell growth inhibition by inhibiting or downregulating c-Myc. Combination treatment of Len with non-selective HDACi suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid or class-I HDAC-selective inhibitor MS275 induces synergic cytotoxicity, associated with downregulation of c-Myc. Unexpectedly, we observed that decreased levels of cereblon (CRBN), a primary target protein of IMiDs, was triggered by these agents. Indeed, sequential treatment of MM cells with MS275 followed by Len shows less efficacy than simultaneous treatment with this combination. Importantly ACY1215, an HDAC6 inhibitor with minimal effects on class-I HDACs, together with Len induces synergistic MM cytotoxicity without alteration of CRBN expression. Our results showed that only modest class-I HDAC inhibition is able to induce synergistic MM cytotoxicity in combination with Len. These studies may provide the framework for utilizing HDACi in combination with Len to both avoid CRBN downregulation and enhance anti-MM activities.
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