Histone deacetylase as a therapeutic target

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2001 Sep;12(7):294-300. doi: 10.1016/s1043-2760(01)00438-6.


The maintenance of health depends on the coordinated and tightly regulated expression of genetic information. Certain forms of leukemia have become paradigms for the pathogenic role of aberrant repression of differentiation genes. In these acute leukemias, fusion proteins generated by chromosomal translocations no longer function as transcriptional activators, but instead repress target genes by recruiting histone deacetylases (HDACs). The potential benefit of HDAC inhibition has been established by the use of enzyme inhibitors in vitro and in a single reported case of experimental therapy. Because recently identified HDAC inhibitors appear to overcome many drawbacks of early inhibitory compounds in clinical use, the stage is set to test the therapeutic value of HDAC inhibition in leukemias and in other diseases, including solid tumors and aberrant hormonal signaling. This review summarizes the range of diseases expected to respond to HDAC inhibition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors*
  • Histone Deacetylases / physiology
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Isoenzymes / physiology
  • Leukemia / drug therapy
  • Leukemia / enzymology
  • Leukemia / genetics
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Neoplasms / genetics


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Isoenzymes
  • Histone Deacetylases