The acetyl code in rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases

Epigenomics. 2017 Apr;9(4):447-461. doi: 10.2217/epi-2016-0136. Epub 2017 Jan 19.


Growing evidence supports the idea that aberrancies in epigenetic processes contribute to the onset and progression of human immune-mediated inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Epigenetic regulators of histone tail modifications play a role in chromatin accessibility and transcriptional responses to inflammatory stimuli. Among these, histone deacetylases (HDACs) regulate the acetylation status of histones and nonhistone proteins, essential for immune responses. Broad-spectrum HDAC inhibitors are well-known anti-inflammatory agents and reduce disease severity in animal models of arthritis; however, selective HDAC inhibitors remain poorly studied. In this review, we describe emerging findings regarding the aberrant acetyl code in RA and other rheumatic disorders which may help identify not only novel diagnostic and prognostic clinical biomarkers for RA, but also new targets for epigenetic pharmacological applications.

Keywords: histone deacetylases; histone modifications; rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / genetics*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic* / drug effects
  • Histone Code
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational / drug effects
  • Rheumatic Diseases / drug therapy
  • Rheumatic Diseases / genetics*
  • Rheumatic Diseases / metabolism


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histones
  • Histone Deacetylases