Effects of sodium butyrate, a new pharmacological agent, on cells in culture

Mol Cell Biochem. 1982 Feb 5;42(2):65-82. doi: 10.1007/BF00222695.


Sodium butyrate, at millimolar concentrations, when added to cell cultures produces many morphological and biochemical modifications in a reversible manner. Some of them occur in all cell lines. They concern regulatory mechanisms of gene expression and cell growth: an hyperacetylation of histone resulting from an inhibition of histone deacetylase and an arrest of cell proliferation are almost constantly observed. Some other modifications vary from one cell type to another: induction of proteins, including enzymes, hormones, hemoglobin, inhibition of cell differentiation, reversion of transformed characteristics of cells to normal morphological and biochemical pattern, increase in interferon antiviral efficiency and induction of integrated viruses. Most if not all these effects of butyrate could result from histone hyperacetylation, from changes in chromatin structures as measured by accessibility to DNases and from modifications in cytoskeleton assembly. We do not know at the present time whether butyrate acts on a very specific target site in cell or if it acts on several cell components.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Animals
  • Butyrates / pharmacology*
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Nucleus / drug effects
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Cell Transformation, Viral / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured / drug effects*
  • Chromatin / drug effects
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / metabolism
  • Cricetinae
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / drug effects
  • Enzyme Induction / drug effects
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interferons / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Microtubules / drug effects
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Virus Activation / drug effects
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Butyrates
  • Chromatin
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Fibronectins
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitors
  • Histones
  • Hormones
  • Interferons