The retinoid X receptor (RXR)-agonist bexarotene and the histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACI) vorinostat are each established monotherapies for cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs). We investigated the combination of HDACI and retinoic acid receptor (RAR)/RXR agonists in vitro and in a phase I, multicenter, open-label, two-part dose-escalation study. The combination of bexarotene with a HDACI in vitro leads to cooperative activation of gene transcription and reduction of cell viability in human tumor cell lines. The primary clinical objective was to determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) of bexarotene plus vorinostat in 23 patients with CTCLs. The MTD for part I was established at vorinostat 200 mg/day plus bexarotene 300 mg/m 2 /day. The
MTD for part II was not reached. Four patients had an active response and seven patients experienced pruritus relief. We conclude that concomitant administration of vorinostat and bexarotene is feasible only if lower doses of each drug are administered relative to the product label monotherapy doses.