Epigenetic modulation with histone deacetylase inhibitors in combination with immunotherapy

Epigenomics. 2015;7(4):641-52. doi: 10.2217/epi.15.16.


Understanding the contribution of dysregulated gene silencing to epigenomic alterations in cancer development provides the rationale for the use of epigenetic modulators, such as histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors, in cancer therapy. HDAC inhibitors have been approved as single agents for cutaneous and peripheral T-cell lymphoma and have shown promising activity in reversing therapy resistance in other tumor types. The effects of HDAC inhibitors on immune modulation have created a recent interest in their potential role in immunotherapy. This review describes the current understanding on integrating HDAC inhibitors into various immunotherapeutic approaches, such as cancer vaccines, adoptive T-cell transfer and immune checkpoint inhibitors. Furthermore, it summarizes promising treatment strategies in epigenetic immune priming from clinical trials that are currently underway.

Keywords: HDAC inhibitors; adoptive T-cell transfer; cancer; epigenetics; immune checkpoint inhibitors; immune response; immunotherapy; vaccines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / therapy*


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors