Epigenetic Therapy in Breast Cancer.

Division of Hematology and Oncology, Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University Medical Center, Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, Columbus, OH, USA.
Current Breast Cancer Reports 03/2011; 3(1):34-43. DOI: 10.1007/s12609-010-0034-0
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Breast carcinogenesis is a multistep process involving both genetic and epigenetic changes. Epigenetics is defined as reversible changes in gene expression, not accompanied by alteration in gene sequence. DNA methylation, histone modification, and nucleosome remodeling are the major epigenetic changes that are dysregulated in breast cancer. Several genes involved in proliferation, anti-apoptosis, invasion, and metastasis have been shown to undergo epigenetic changes in breast cancer. Because epigenetic changes are potentially reversible processes, much effort has been directed toward understanding this mechanism with the goal of finding effective therapies that target these changes. Both demethylating agents and the histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) are under investigation as single agents or in combination with other systemic therapies in the treatment of breast cancer. In this review, we discuss the role of epigenetic regulation in breast cancer, in particular focusing on the clinical trials using therapies that modulate epigenetic mechanisms.

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