Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

Histone/protein deacetylases and T cell immune responses

  1. Tatiana Akimova1,
  2. Ulf H. Beier2,
  3. Yujie Liu1,
  4. Liqing Wang1, and
  5. Wayne W. Hancock1,*
  1. 1 Division of Transplant Immunology, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, United States;
  2. 2 Division of Nephrology, Department of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, United States
  1. * Corresponding author; email: whancock{at}


Clinical and experimental studies show that inhibition of histone/protein deacetylases (HDAC) can have important anti-neoplastic effects through cytotoxic and pro-apoptotic mechanisms. There are also increasing data from non-oncologic settings that HDAC inhibitors (HDACi) can exhibit useful anti-inflammatory effects in vitro and in vivo, unrelated to cytotoxicity or apoptosis. These effects can be cell, tissue or context-dependent, and can involve modulation of specific inflammatory signaling pathways, as well as epigenetic mechanisms. We review recent advances in the understanding of how HDACi alter immune and inflammatory processes, with a particular focus on the effects of HDACi on T cell biology, including the activation and functions of conventional T cells and the unique T cell subset, comprised of Foxp3+ T-regulatory cells. While studies are still needed to tease out details of the various biological roles of individual HDAC isoforms and their corresponding selective inhibitors, the anti-inflammatory effects of HDACi are already promising and may lead to new therapeutic avenues in transplantation and autoimmune diseases.

  • Submitted October 5, 2011.
  • Accepted January 6, 2012.