Histone deacetylases and their inhibitors in cancer, neurological diseases and immune disorders

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2014 Sep;13(9):673-91. doi: 10.1038/nrd4360. Epub 2014 Aug 18.


Epigenetic aberrations, which are recognized as key drivers of several human diseases, are often caused by genetic defects that result in functional deregulation of epigenetic proteins, their altered expression and/or their atypical recruitment to certain gene promoters. Importantly, epigenetic changes are reversible, and epigenetic enzymes and regulatory proteins can be targeted using small molecules. This Review discusses the role of altered expression and/or function of one class of epigenetic regulators--histone deacetylases (HDACs)--and their role in cancer, neurological diseases and immune disorders. We highlight the development of small-molecule HDAC inhibitors and their use in the laboratory, in preclinical models and in the clinic.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / drug effects
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / immunology
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Histone Deacetylases / genetics
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • Histone Deacetylases / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Immune System Diseases / immunology
  • Immune System Diseases / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Nervous System Diseases / immunology
  • Nervous System Diseases / metabolism


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylases