Function of histone deacetylase inhibitors in inflammation

Crit Rev Immunol. 2011;31(3):233-63. doi: 10.1615/critrevimmunol.v31.i3.40.


Histone deacetylases (HDACs) display multi-faceted roles in coordinating the interaction of intracellular signaling pathways with chromatin remodeling and transcription factor function to finely specify gene alterations and maintenance of gene expression during cellular activation, proliferation, and differentiation. These processes, epigenetic and non-epigenetic, are critical to the development of both the adaptive and innate arms of the mammalian immune system, and the measured initiation and resolution of immune responses. Pharmacological modulators of HDAC activity have demonstrated uniformly potent anti-inflammatory effects in experimental animal models of these diseases, in relevant immune and stromal cell populations from patients, as well as initial successes in the clinic. Recent studies have identified key roles for specific HDACs in regulating immune function, as well as alterations in HDAC expression and function in a number of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs), which may contribute to pathology in these diseases. Here, we review recent advances in our understanding of HDAC function in the immune system, their contribution to IMIDs, and the therapeutic potential of altering HDAC activity in IMIDs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / immunology
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / metabolism
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / pathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / immunology
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / immunology
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Histone Deacetylases / genetics
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / immunology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / metabolism
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Sirtuins / genetics
  • Sirtuins / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Sirtuins
  • Histone Deacetylases