Could valproic acid be an effective anticancer agent? The evidence so far

Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2014 Oct;14(10):1097-100. doi: 10.1586/14737140.2014.940329. Epub 2014 Jul 14.


Valproic acid is an inhibitor of class I histone deacetylases. Epigenetic therapies in cancer have been focus of a keen interest and histone deacetylase inhibitors, in particular, have been approved for certain types of hematologic malignancies. Valproic acid is an attractive candidate for cancer therapy due to its mechanism of action, its low cost and generally good clinical tolerability. In the following editorial, we will review its role as monotherapy for cancer, its place in combination epigenetic therapy, and its role as chemosensitizer, and cancer preventative agent.

Keywords: AML; HDAC; MDS; cancer prevention; methylation; valproic acid.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histone Deacetylases / drug effects
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Valproic Acid / adverse effects
  • Valproic Acid / pharmacology*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Valproic Acid
  • Histone Deacetylases