Therapeutic effects of sodium butyrate on glioma cells in vitro and in the rat C6 glioma model

Herbert H. Engelhard, Holly A. Duncan, Samuel Kim, Peggy S. Criswell, Linda Van Eldik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Preliminary in vitro studies have indicated that sodium butyrate inhibits the proliferation of cultured glioma cells and induces cellullar differentiation, making it potentially useful as a therapeutic agent for patients with glioblastoma multiforme. The purpose of this study was to expand on the preliminary research by investigating the effects of sodium butyrate on multiple cell lines, explanted cells from glioblastoma tumor specimens, and in vivo in the rat C6 glioma brain tumor model. METHODS: Four malignant glioma cell fines (A-172, T98G, U118MG, and C6) and two primary cell cultures derived from human glioblastoma tumor specimens were treated with 2 mmol/L sodium butyrate for up to 72 hours. Sodium butyrate-induced effects on cell morphology, proliferation, cell cycle distribution, migration, glial fibrillary acidic protein staining, and S100β protein content were determined. For in vivo studies, a total of 64 male Wistar-Furth rats underwent operations to implant C6 glioma cells stereotactically or were used as controls. The rats were treated with escalating doses of sodium butyrate by microinfusion with Alzet minipumps (Durect Corp., Cupertino, CA). RESULTS: Sodium butyrate treatment in vitro produced changes in morphology and glial fibrillary acidic protein expression indicative of cellular differentiation. In cell lines and explanted cells, sodium butyrate consistently inhibited glioblastoma cell proliferation (to 51 ± 6% that of controls) and migration (to 46 ± 17%). Intratumoral infusion of 40 mmol/L sodium butyrate prolonged the survival of Wistar-Furth rats with intracerebral C6 tumors (P = 0.013) without detectable toxicity. CONCLUSION: These data support further consideration of direct interstitial infusion of sodium butyrate in a Phase I clinical study for patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-625
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001


  • Brain tumor treatment
  • Cellular differentiation
  • Cellular migration
  • Deoxyribonucleic acid
  • Flow cytometry
  • Glial fibrillary acidic protein
  • Glioblastoma multiforme
  • S100β protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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