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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2011, Article ID 148046, 9 pages
Review Article

The Role of HDACs Inhibitors in Childhood and Adolescence Acute Leukemias

Pediatric Oncology and Hematology “Lalla Seràgnoli” Unit, Department of Pediatrics, University of Bologna, 40137 Bologna, Italy

Received 11 July 2010; Revised 15 November 2010; Accepted 9 December 2010

Academic Editor: Christian Seiser

Copyright © 2011 Riccardo Masetti et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Acute leukemia is the most common type of childhood and adolescence cancer, characterized by clonal proliferation of variably differentiated myeloid or lymphoid precursors. Recent insights into the molecular pathogenesis of leukemia have shown that epigenetic modifications, such as deacetylation of histones and DNA methylation, play crucial roles in leukemogenesis, by transcriptional silencing of critical genes. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are potential targets in the treatment of leukaemia, and, as a consequence, inhibitors of HDACs (HDIs) are being studied for therapeutic purposes. HDIs promote or enhance several different anticancer mechanisms, such as apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, and cellular differentiation and, therefore, are in evidence as promising treatment for children and adolescents with acute leukemia, in monotherapy or in association with other anticancer drugs. Here we review the main preclinical and clinical studies regarding the use of HDIs in treating childhood and adolescence leukemia.