Effect of valproic acid on histone deacetylase expression in oral cancer (Review)

Ahmed Al‑Khafaji, Lydia Wang, Haidar Alabdei, Triantafillos Liloglou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a frequent human malignancy that demonstrates a range of genetic and epigenetic alterations. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are key epigenetic regulators of cell‑cycle progression, differentiation and apoptosis and their dysregulation is implicated in cancer development. HDACs are promising targets for anticancer therapy through the utilisation of HDAC inhibitors (HDACis). OSCC cells have been shown to have low levels of histone acetylation, suggesting that HDACis may produce beneficial effects in patients with OSCC. Valproic acid (VPA) is a class I and IIa HDACi and, therefore, may be useful in anticancer therapy. VPA has been reported as a chemo‑preventive epigenetic agent in individuals with high‑risk oral dysplasia (OD) and thus associated with a reduced risk of HNSCC. It is hypothesised that HDAC inhibition by VPA triggers a change in the expression levels of different HDAC family gene‑members. The present review summarises the current literature on HDAC expression changes in response to VPA in oral cancer patients and in vitro studies in an effort to better understand the potential epigenetic impact of VPA treatment. The present review outlined the need for exploring supportive evidence of the chemo‑preventive role played by VPA‑based epigenetic modification in treating oral pre‑cancerous lesions and, thus, providing a novel tolerable chemotherapeutic strategy for patients with oral cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Article number197
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalOncology Letters
Issue number5
Early online date7 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Mar 2024


  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • valproic acid
  • histone deacetylase expression
  • oral cancer
  • histone deacetylase inhibitors
  • preneoplasia


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