Suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, protects dopaminergic neurons from neurotoxin-induced damage

S. H. Chen, H. M. Wu, B. Ossola, N. Schendzielorz, B. C. Wilson, C. H. Chu, S. L. Chen, Q. Wang, D. Zhang, L. Qian, X. Li, Jau Shyong Hong, Ru Band Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose Prevention or disease-modifying therapies are critical for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. However, no such intervention is currently available. Growing evidence has demonstrated that administration of histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors ameliorates a wide range of neurologic and psychiatric disorders in experimental models. Suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA) was the first HDAC inhibitor approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the sole use of cancer therapy. The purpose of this study was to explore the potential new indications of SAHA for therapy of neurodegenerative diseases in in vitro Parkinson's disease models. Experimental Approach Mesencephalic neuron-glia cultures and reconstituted cultures were used to investigate neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects of SAHA. We measured toxicity in dopaminergic neurons, using dopamine uptake assay and morphological analysis and expression of neurotrophic substances by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and real-time RT PCR. Key Results In mesencephalic neuron-glia cultures, SAHA displayed dose- and time-dependent prolongation of the survival and protection against neurotoxin-induced neuronal death of dopaminergic neurons. Mechanistic studies revealed that the neuroprotective effects of SAHA were mediated in part by promoting release of neurotrophic factors from astroglia through inhibition of histone deacetylation. Conclusion and implications The novel neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects of SAHA demonstrated in this study suggest that further study of this HDAC inhibitor could provide a new therapeutic approach to the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-505
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • HDAC
  • Parkinson's disease
  • SAHA
  • neurodegenerative disease
  • neuroprotection
  • neurotrophic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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