Unlocking the potential of retinoic acid in anticancer therapy

T. Schenk, S. Stengel, A. Zelent

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


All-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) is a physiologically active metabolite of vitamin A. Its antitumour activities have been extensively studied in a variety of model systems and clinical trials; however, to date the only malignancy responsive to ATRA treatment is acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) where it induces complete remission in the majority of cases when administered in combination with light chemotherapy and/or arsenic trioxide. After decades of studies, the efficacy of ATRA to treat other acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) subtypes and solid tumours remains poor. Recent studies directed to improve ATRA responsiveness in non-APL AML seem to indicate that the lack of effective ATRA response in these tumours may be primarily due to aberrant epigenetics, which negatively affect ATRA-regulated gene expression and its antileukaemic activity. Epigenetic reprogramming could potentially restore therapeutic effects of ATRA in all AML subtypes. This review discusses the current progresses in the understanding how ATRA can be utilised in the therapy of non-APL AML and other cancers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2039-2045
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 25 2014


  • KDM1A
  • LSD1
  • RAR
  • combination therapy
  • epi-drugs
  • retinoic acid receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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