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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 830260, 9 pages
Review Article

Autophagic and Apoptotic Effects of HDAC Inhibitors on Cancer Cells

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry, 4-1 Seiryo-machi, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8575, Japan

Received 23 June 2010; Accepted 3 March 2011

Academic Editor: Patrick Matthias

Copyright © 2011 Hidemi Rikiishi. 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.


Because epigenetic alterations are believed to be involved in the repression of tumor suppressor genes and the promotion of tumorigenesis in cancers, novel compounds endowed with histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitory activity are an attractive therapeutic approach. Indeed, the potential of HDAC inhibitors for cancer therapy has been explored in preclinical models, and some agents approved for hematologic malignancies have reached the clinical setting. HDAC inhibitors are able to mediate the induction of both apoptosis and autophagy, which are related to anticancer activity in a variety of cancer cell lines. Given the inherent resistance to apoptosis that characterizes cancer, the targeting of alternative pathways is an attractive strategy to improve anti-tumor therapy. The activation of autophagy represents novel cancer treatment targets. This paper aims to critically discuss how the anticancer potential of HDAC inhibitors may elicit a response to human cancers through different cell pathways leading to cell death.