Butyrate as a model for "gene-regulating chemoprevention and chemotherapy."

Biofactors. 2000;12(1-4):283-7. doi: 10.1002/biof.5520120142.


Recent progress in molecular genetics has facilitated understanding of the mechanisms of carcinogenesis. However, there is not yet any effective therapy or prevention for cancer based on the molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis. So-called "gene therapy" for cancer is expected to become a new method of treatment, but there are still several serious problems with gene therapy. As a matter of fact, it seems impossible to adopt gene therapy for prevention. We therefore tried to develop a different method of cancer prevention or therapy based on the molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis. For instance, the tumor-suppressor gene p53 is mutated in about 50% of human malignancies. It is known that p53 stimulates the promoter activities of p21/WAF1, gadd45 and bax genes, resulting in cell cycle arrest, DNA repair and apoptosis, respectively. Therefore, chemical compounds that can stimulate these genes should compensate for the function of p53. As a model of this, we found that histone deacetylase inhibitors such as butyrate or trichostatin A dramatically stimulate the p21/WAF1 gene promoter through the Spl sites, resulting in cell cycle arrest. Interestingly, another group has recently reported that phenylbutyrate, which is also known as a histone deacetylase inhibitor, is very effective for leukemia patients. We therefore consider methods of up-regulating p21/WAF, gadd45 or bax genes should be useful for cancer therapy and termed this method "Gene-regulating chemotherapy". Theoretically, the chemicals up-regulating such genes should be also useful for chemoprevention, and we also termed it as "Gene-regulating chemoprevention". In conclusion, we propose that "Gene-regulating chemotherapy or chemoprevention" may be a promising new method for cancer therapy or prevention and histone deacetylase inhibitor is a good candidate for this method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Butyrates / pharmacology
  • Butyrates / therapeutic use*
  • Chemoprevention*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Dietary Fiber / therapeutic use
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control


  • Butyrates
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors