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Salermide down-regulates sirtuin proteins to induce human cancer cell apoptosis


The NAD+-dependent family of sirtuin proteins (SIRT1–7), is involved in cell apoptosis and senescence. Salermide is a potent inhibitor of SIRT1 and SIRT2 and can induce tumor-specific cell death in selected human cell lines. In this study we investigated salermide’s apoptotic effect in a wide range of other human cancer cell lines and its antiproliferative potential in combination with cisplatin.


Seven different cancer cell lines (SKOV-3, MKN45, MKN28, N87, FaDu, NuLi1, Jurkat) were treated with salermide (1 µM – 0.1 nM) for 24, 48, and 72 hours and assessed for cell viability. Three cell lines (SKOV-3, N87, Jurkat) were selected for combination therapy with salermide and cisplatin (30 µM). In order to characterize salermide’s proapoptotic pathway SIRT1, SIRT2, pAKt, p53, acetyl-p53 and Nampt (nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase) were determined in SKOV-3 and Jurkat cells by Western blotting.


Salermide yielded greater dose-dependent apoptotic effects in Jurkat, SKOV-3 and N87 cells than in the other cell lines, with most potent effect after 48 h of incubation. The anti-proliferative activity was associated with a G0-G1 cell cycle arrest. SIRT1 and SIRT2 protein were down-regulated after 48 h and 72 h. This was accompanied by a down-regulation of pAKT, p53 and Nampt. Acetyl-p53 levels were not consistent across cell types. Cisplatin exerted synergistic effects with salermide in all cell lines and reduced cell viability up to 50%.


Salermide-induced apoptosis is cell line-dependent and more effective in slow-proliferating (SKOV-3) and hematologic (Jurkat) cancer cells. The synergism with cisplatin implies a potentiating effect of this sirtuin inhibitor as add-on in clinical cancer therapy.

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Correspondence to Michael Wolzt.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Leisser, A., Wolzt, M. & Storka, A. Salermide down-regulates sirtuin proteins to induce human cancer cell apoptosis. BMC Pharmacol 11 (Suppl 2), A49 (2011).

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