Evaluation of the efficacy of valproic acid and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (vorinostat) in enhancing the effects of first-line tuberculosis drugs against intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Int J Infect Dis. 2018 Apr;69:78-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2018.02.021. Epub 2018 Mar 2.


Background: New tuberculosis (TB) drug treatment regimens are urgently needed. This study evaluated the potential of the histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs) valproic acid (VPA) and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) to enhance the effects of first-line anti-TB drugs against intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Methods: M. tuberculosis H37Rv cultures were exposed to VPA or SAHA over 6 days, in the presence or absence of isoniazid (INH) and rifampicin (RIF). The efficacy of VPA and SAHA against intracellular M. tuberculosis with and without INH or RIF was tested by treating infected macrophages. Bactericidal activity was assessed by counting mycobacterial colony-forming units (CFU).

Results: VPA treatment exhibited superior bactericidal activity to SAHA (2-log CFU reduction), while both HDIs moderately improved the activity of RIF against extracellular M. tuberculosis. The bactericidal effect of VPA against intracellular M. tuberculosis was greater than that of SAHA (1-log CFU reduction) and equalled that of INH (1.5-log CFU reduction). INH/RIF and VPA/SAHA combination treatment inhibited intracellular M. tuberculosis survival in a shorter time span than monotherapy (3days vs. 6 days).

Conclusions: VPA and SAHA have adjunctive potential to World Health Organization-recommended TB treatment regimens. Clinical evaluation of the two drugs with regard to reducing the treatment duration and improving treatment outcomes in TB is warranted.

Keywords: Adjunct host-directed therapy; Histone deacetylase inhibitors; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; Repurposed drugs; Tuberculosis.

MeSH terms

  • Antitubercular Agents / pharmacology*
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hydroxamic Acids / pharmacology*
  • Isoniazid / pharmacology
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / microbiology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / drug effects
  • Rifampin / pharmacology
  • THP-1 Cells
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy*
  • Valproic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Vorinostat


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Hydroxamic Acids
  • Vorinostat
  • Valproic Acid
  • Isoniazid
  • Rifampin