JAK-2 dysregulation plays an important role as an oncogenic driver, and is thus a promising therapeutic target in hematological malignancies. Ruxolitinib is a pyrrolo[2.3-d]pyrimidine derivative with inhibitory activity against JAK1 and JAK2, moderate activity against TYK2, and minor activity against JAK3. Vorinostat is an HDAC inhibitor that reduces JAK-2 expression, thus affecting JAK-2 mRNA expression and increasing JAK-2 proteasomal deterioration. Here we hypothesized that the combination of ruxolitinib and vorinostat could have synergistic effects against hematological disease. We tested combinations of low doses of ruxolitinib and vorinostat in 12 cell lines, and observed highly synergistic cytotoxic action in six cell lines, which was maintained for up to 120 h in the presence of stromal cells. The sensitivity of the six cell lines may be explained by the broad effects of the drug combination, which can affect various targets. Treatment with the combination of ruxolitinib and vorinostat appeared to induce a possible reversal of the Warburg effect, with associated ROS production, apoptotic events, and growth inhibition. Decreased glucose metabolism may have markedly sensitized the six more susceptible cell lines to combined treatment. Therapeutic inhibition of the JAK/STAT pathway seems to offer substantial anti-tumor benefit, and combined therapy with ruxolitinib and vorinostat may represent a promising novel therapeutic modality for hematological neoplasms.

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