Revisiting Histone Deacetylases in Human Tumorigenesis: The Paradigm of Urothelial Bladder Cancer

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Mar 14;20(6):1291. doi: 10.3390/ijms20061291.


Urinary bladder cancer is a common malignancy, being characterized by substantial patient mortality and management cost. Its high somatic-mutation frequency and molecular heterogeneity usually renders tumors refractory to the applied regimens. Hitherto, methotrexate-vinblastine-adriamycin-cisplatin and gemcitabine-cisplatin represent the backbone of systemic chemotherapy. However, despite the initial chemosensitivity, the majority of treated patients will eventually develop chemoresistance, which severely reduces their survival expectancy. Since chromatin regulation genes are more frequently mutated in muscle-invasive bladder cancer, as compared to other epithelial tumors, targeted therapies against chromatin aberrations in chemoresistant clones may prove beneficial for the disease. "Acetyl-chromatin" homeostasis is regulated by the opposing functions of histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs). The HDAC/SIRT (super-)family contains 18 members, which are divided in five classes, with each family member being differentially expressed in normal urinary bladder tissues. Since a strong association between irregular HDAC expression/activity and tumorigenesis has been previously demonstrated, we herein attempt to review the accumulated published evidences that implicate HDACs/SIRTs as critical regulators in urothelial bladder cancer. Moreover, the most extensively investigated HDAC inhibitors (HDACis) are also analyzed, and the respective clinical trials are also described. Interestingly, it seems that HDACis should be preferably used in drug-combination therapeutic schemes, including radiation.

Keywords: HDAC; bladder; cancer; deacetylation; inhibitor; therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Transitional Cell / enzymology
  • Chromatin Assembly and Disassembly / drug effects
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / enzymology


  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histone Deacetylases