Molecular basis of the anti-cancer effects of histone deacetylase inhibitors

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009 Jan;41(1):16-20. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2008.07.020. Epub 2008 Aug 12.


Histone deacetylase inhibitors comprise a variety of natural and synthetic compounds, which have in common that they inhibit enzymes that mediate the removal of acetyl groups from a range of proteins, including nucleosomal histones. Histone deacetylase inhibitors have anti-cancer activities in vitro and in vivo and are used in the clinic for the treatment of advanced cutaneous T cell lymphoma. The molecular pathways targeted by these compounds are discussed with an emphasis on the effects of these compounds on retinoic acid signaling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • DNA Methylation
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors*
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous / drug therapy
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Tretinoin / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histones
  • Tretinoin
  • Histone Deacetylases