Vorinostat approved in Japan for treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphomas: status and prospects

Onco Targets Ther. 2012;5:67-76. doi: 10.2147/OTT.S23874. Epub 2012 Apr 27.


Histone acetylation and deacetylation play important roles in the regulation of gene transcription and in the modulation of chromatin structure. The levels of histone acetylation are determined by the activities of histone acetyltransferases and histone deacetylases (HDACs). HDACs are associated with a number of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes and can be aberrantly expressed and/or inappropriately activated in cancer cells. HDAC inhibitors have therefore recently emerged as a novel treatment modality against malignancies. They regulate gene expression by enhancing the acetylation of not only histones but also nonhistone proteins, including transcription factors, transcription regulators, signal transduction mediators, and DNA repair enzymes, and they inhibit cancer growth. Vorinostat (suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid) is one of the most potent HDAC inhibitors, and was approved in Japan in 2011 for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Numerous clinical trials have shown it to be effective against cutaneous T-cell lymphoma but less so against other types of cancer. Because vorinostat can overcome resistance to or enhance the efficacy of other anticancer agents, such as 5-fluorouracil, carboplatin, paclitaxel, bortezomib, and tamoxifen, combination therapies using vorinostat and these agents have been investigated. This review introduces the background and mechanism of action of vorinostat and describes the results of clinical trials using vorinostat, both as a single agent and in combination with other anticancer agents, against cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and other malignancies.

Keywords: T-cell lymphoma; cancer; novel treatment; vorinostat.