Pharmacological Selectivity Within Class I Histone Deacetylases Predicts Effects on Synaptic Function and Memory Rescue

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2015 Sep;40(10):2307-16. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.93. Epub 2015 Apr 3.


Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are promising therapeutic targets for neurological and psychiatric disorders that impact cognitive ability, but the relationship between various HDAC isoforms and cognitive improvement is poorly understood, particularly in mouse models of memory impairment. A goal shared by many is to develop HDAC inhibitors with increased isoform selectivity in order to reduce unwanted side effects, while retaining procognitive effects. However, studies addressing this tack at the molecular, cellular and behavioral level are limited. Therefore, we interrogated the biological effects of class I HDAC inhibitors with varying selectivity and assessed a subset of these compounds for their ability to regulate transcriptional activity, synaptic function and memory. The HDAC-1, -2, and -3 inhibitors, RGFP963 and RGFP968, were most effective at stimulating synaptogenesis, while the selective HDAC3 inhibitor, RGFP966, with known memory enhancing abilities, had minimal impact. Furthermore, RGFP963 increased hippocampal spine density, while HDAC3 inhibition was ineffective. Genome-wide gene expression analysis by RNA sequencing indicated that RGFP963 and RGFP966 induce largely distinct transcriptional profiles in the dorsal hippocampus of mature mice. The results of bioinformatic analyses were consistent with RGFP963 inducing a transcriptional program that enhances synaptic efficacy. Finally, RGFP963, but not RGFP966, rescued memory in a mouse model of Alzheimer's Disease. Together, these studies suggest that the specific memory promoting properties of class I HDAC inhibitors may depend on isoform selectivity and that certain pathological brain states may be more receptive to HDAC inhibitors that improve network function by enhancing synapse efficacy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / complications
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor / genetics
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Conditioning, Psychological / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fear / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxamic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Memory Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Memory Disorders / etiology
  • Memory Disorders / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Presenilin-1 / genetics
  • Synapses / drug effects*
  • Synaptophysin / genetics
  • Synaptophysin / metabolism


  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Hydroxamic Acids
  • PSEN1 protein, human
  • Presenilin-1
  • Synaptophysin
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • trichostatin A
  • Histone Deacetylases