Targeting histone deacetyalses in the treatment of B- and T-cell malignancies

Invest New Drugs. 2010 Dec;28 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S58-78. doi: 10.1007/s10637-010-9591-3. Epub 2010 Dec 4.


HDAC inhibitors (HDACI) are now emerging as one of the most promising new classes of drugs for the treatment of select forms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). They are particularly active in T-cell lymphomas, possibly hodgkin's lymphoma and indolent B cell lymphomas. Presently, two of these agents, vorinostat and romidepsin, have been approved in the US for the treatment of relapsed and refractory cutaneous T cell lymphomas (CTCL). Initially, these agents were developed with the idea that they affected transcriptional activation and thus gene expression, by modulating chromatin condensation and decondensation. It is now clear that their effects go beyond chromatin and by affecting the acetylation status of histones and other intra-cellular proteins, they modify gene expression and cellular function via multiple pathways. Gene expression profiles and functional genetic analysis has led to further understanding of the various molecular pathways that are affected by these agents including cell cycle regulation, pathways of cellular proliferation, apoptosis and angiogenesis all important in lymphomagenesis. There is also increasing data to support the effects of these agents on T cell receptor and immune function which may explain the high level of activity of these agents in T cell lymphomas and hodgkin's lymphoma. There is ample evidence of epigenetic dysregulation in lymphomas which may underlie the mechanisms of action of these agents but how these agents work is still not clear. Current HDAC inhibitors can be divided into at least four classes based on their chemical structure. At present several of these HDAC inhibitors are in clinical trials both as single agents and in combination with chemotherapy or other biological agents. They are easy to administer and are generally well tolerated with minimal side effects. Different dosing levels and schedules and the use of isospecific HDAC inhibitors are some of the strategies that are being employed to increase the therapeutic effect of these agents in the treatment of lymphomas. There may also be class differences that translate into specific activity against different lymphoma. HDAC inhibitors will likely be incorporated into combinations of targeted therapies both in the upfront and relapsed setting for lymphomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / drug therapy*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / enzymology*
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / genetics
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / drug therapy*
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / enzymology*
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / genetics


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylases