Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Cancers (Basel)








acetylation; adjuvant; combination therapy; epigenetics; immunotherapy; melanoma; methylation; resistance; targeted therapy


Melanoma is the least common but deadliest type of skin cancer. Melanomagenesis is driven by a series of mutations and epigenetic alterations in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes that allow melanomas to grow, evolve, and metastasize. Epigenetic alterations can also lead to immune evasion and development of resistance to therapies. Although the standard of care for melanoma patients includes surgery, targeted therapies, and immune checkpoint blockade, other therapeutic approaches like radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immune cell-based therapies are used for patients with advanced disease or unresponsive to the conventional first-line therapies. Targeted therapies such as the use of BRAF and MEK inhibitors and immune checkpoint inhibitors such as anti-PD-1 and anti-CTLA4 only improve the survival of a small subset of patients. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify alternative standalone or combinatorial therapies. Epigenetic modifiers have gained attention as therapeutic targets as they modulate multiple cellular and immune-related processes. Due to melanoma's susceptibility to extrinsic factors and reversible nature, epigenetic drugs are investigated as a therapeutic avenue and as adjuvants for targeted therapies and immune checkpoint inhibitors, as they can sensitize and/or reverse resistance to these therapies, thus enhancing their therapeutic efficacy. This review gives an overview of the role of epigenetic changes in melanoma progression and resistance. In addition, we evaluate the latest advances in preclinical and clinical research studying combinatorial therapies and discuss the use of epigenetic drugs such as HDAC and DNMT inhibitors as potential adjuvants for melanoma patients.


Copyright: © 2021 by the authors.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access


Find in your library



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.