Applicability of histone deacetylase inhibition for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy

Sebastian Lunke, Assam El-Osta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a neurodegenerative disease with potentially devastating and even deadly effects on affected individuals, was first described in the late nineteenth century. Although the survival of motor neuron (SMN) gene was identified nearly 2 decades ago to be causative of the disease, neither an effective treatment nor a cure are currently available. Yet efforts are on-going to test a multitude of treatment strategies with the potential to alleviate disease symptoms in human and clinical trials. Among the most studied compounds for the treatment of SMA are histone deacetylase inhibitors. Several of these epigenetic modifiers have been shown to increase expression of the crucial SMN gene in vitro and in vivo, an effect linked to increased histone acetylation and remodeling of the chromatin landscape surrounding the SMN gene promoter. Here, we review the history and current state of use of histone deacetylase inhibitors in SMA, as well as the success of clinical trials investigating the clinical applicability of these epigenetic modifiers in SMA treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677 - 687
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Epigenetic
  • Chromatin
  • Histones
  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Clinical trials

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