Potential non-oncological applications of histone deacetylase inhibitors

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Histone deacetylase inhibitors have emerged as a new class of anticancer therapeutic drugs. Their clinical utility in oncology stems from their intrinsic cytotoxic properties and combinatorial effects with other conventional cancer therapies. To date, the histone deacetylase inhibitors suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (Vorinostat, Zolinza®) and depsipeptide (Romidepsin, Istodax®) have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of refractory cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. Further, there are currently over 100 clinical trials involving the use of histone deacetylase inhibitors in a wide range of solid and hematological malignancies. The therapeutic potential of histone deacetylase inhibitors has also been investigated for numerous other diseases. For example, the cytotoxic properties of histone deacetylase inhibitors are currently being harnessed as a potential treatment for malaria, whereas the efficacy of these compounds for HIV relies on de-silencing latent virus. The anti-inflammatory properties of histone deacetylase inhibitors are the predominant mechanisms for other diseases, such as hepatitis, systemic lupus erythematosus and a wide range of neurodegenerative conditions. Additionally, histone deacetylase inhibitors have been shown to be efficacious in animal models of cardiac hypertrophy and asthma. Broad-spectrum histone deacetylase inhibitors are clinically available and have been used almost exclusively in preclinical systems to date. However, it is emerging that class- or isoform-specific compounds, which are becoming more readily available, may be more efficacious particularly for non-oncological applications. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the effects and clinical potential of histone deacetylase inhibitors in various diseases. Apart from applications in oncology, the discussion is focused on the potential efficacy of histone deacetylase inhibitors for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, cardiac hypertrophy and asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-467
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican Journal of Translational Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Asthma
  • Cardiac hypertrophy
  • Chromatin modifications
  • Histone acetylation
  • Histone deacetylase inhibitor
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Trichostatin A

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