Journal Article

Dietary HDAC inhibitors: time to rethink weak ligands in cancer chemoprevention?

Roderick H. Dashwood, Melinda C. Myzak and Emily Ho

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 27, issue 2, pages 344-349
Published in print February 2006 | ISSN: 0143-3334
Published online August 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
Dietary HDAC inhibitors: time to rethink weak ligands in cancer chemoprevention?

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There is growing interest in the various mechanisms that regulate chromatin remodeling, including modulation of histone deacetylase (HDAC) activities. Competitive HDAC inhibitors disrupt the cell cycle and/or induce apoptosis via de-repression of genes such as P21 and BAX, and cancer cells appear to be more sensitive than non-transformed cells to trichostatin A and related HDAC inhibitory compounds. This apparent selectivity of action in cancer cells makes HDAC inhibitors an attractive avenue for drug development. However, in the search for potent HDAC inhibitors with cancer therapeutic potential there has been a tendency to overlook or dismiss weak ligands that could prove effective in cancer prevention, including agents present in the human diet. Recent reports have described butyrate, diallyl disulfide and sulforaphane as HDAC inhibitors, and many other dietary agents will be probably discovered to attenuate HDAC activity. Here we discuss ‘pharmacologic’ agents that potently de-repress gene expression (e.g. during therapeutic intervention) versus dietary HDAC inhibitors that, as weak ligands, might subtly regulate the expression of genes involved in cell growth and apoptosis. An important question is the extent to which dietary HDAC inhibitors, and other dietary agents that affect gene expression via chromatin remodeling, modulate the expression of genes such as P21 and BAX so that cells can respond most effectively to external stimuli and toxic insults.

Keywords: APL, acute promyelocytic leukemia; CLA, conjugated linoleic acid; HDAC, histone deacetylase; RAR, retinoic acid receptors; RARE, retinoic acid response element; SAHA, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid; SFN, sulforaphane; SFN–Cys, SFN–cysteine; SFN–GSH, SFN–glutathione; SFN–NAC, SFN–N-acetylcysteine

Journal Article.  4211 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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