Histone deacetylase inhibitors and cell death

Jing Zhang, Qing Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

153 Scopus citations


Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are a vast family of enzymes involved in chromatin remodeling and have crucial roles in numerous biological processes, largely through their repressive influence on transcription. In addition to modifying histones, HDACs also target many other non-histone protein substrates to regulate gene expression. Recently, HDACs have gained growing attention as HDAC-inhibiting compounds are being developed as promising cancer therapeutics. Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) have been shown to induce differentiation, cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, autophagy and necrosis in a variety of transformed cell lines. In this review, we mainly discuss how HDACi may elicit a therapeutic response to human cancers through different cell death pathways, in particular, apoptosis and autophagy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3885-3901
Number of pages17
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


  • Apoptosis
  • Autophagy
  • Cell death
  • Histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi)
  • Histone deacetylases (HDACs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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