Retinoid -induced regression of human head and neck squamous cell carcinomas is associated with the induction of a pro -inflammatory response

Mimi Cho, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives that are effective chemopreventative and chemotherapeutic agents for head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC). Despite the wide application of retinoids in cancer treatment, the mechanism by which retinoids inhibit head and neck squamous cell carcinomas is not completely understood. While in vitro models show that drugs affect cell proliferation and differentiation, in vivo models, such as tumor xenografts in nude mice drugs affect more complex parameters such as extracellular matrix formation, angiogenesis and inflammation. Therefore, we studied the effects of retinoids on the growth of the 22B HNSCC tumors using a xenograft model. In this system, retinoids had no effect on tumor cell differentiation but caused invasion of the tumor by inflammatory cells. Retinoid induced inflammation lead to tumor cell death and tumor regression. Therefore, we hypothesized that retinoids stimulated the 22B HNSCC xenografts to produce a pro-inflammatory signal such as chemokines that in turn activated host inflammatory responses. We used real time quantitative RT-PCR to measure cytokine and chemokine expression in retinoid treated tumors. Treatment of tumors with an RAR-specific retinoid, LGD1550, had no effect on the expression of TNFα, IL-1α, GROα, IP-10, Rantes, MCP-1 and MIP-1α but induced IL-8 mRNA 5-fold. We further characterized the retinoid effect on IL-8 expression on the 22B HNSCC and 1483 HNSCC cells in vitro. Retinoids increased IL-8 expression and enhanced TNFα-dependent IL-8 induction. In addition, retinoids increased the basal and TNFα-dependent expression of MCP-1 but decreased the basal and TNFα dependent expression of IP-10. The effect of retinoids on IL-8 and MCP-1 expression was very rapid with increased levels of mRNA detected within 1–2 hours. This effect did not require new protein synthesis and did not result from mRNA stabilization. Both RAR and RXR ligands increased IL-8 expression whereas only RAR ligands activated MCP-1 expression. We identified a functional retinoid response element in the IL-8 promoter that was located adjacent to the C/EBP-NFkB response element. TNFα treatment of the 22B cells caused rapid, transient and selective acetylation of regions of the IL-8 promoter associated with the NFkB response element. Co-treatment of the cells with retinoids plus TNF increased the acetylation of chromatin in this region without altering the kinetics of acetylation. These results demonstrate that ligand activated retinoid receptors can cooperate with NFkB in histone acetylation and chromatin remodeling. We believe that in certain HNSCC tumors this cooperation and the resulting enhancement of IL-8 expression can induce an inflammatory response that leads to tumor regression. We believe that the induction of inflammation in susceptible tumors, possibly coupled with cytotoxic interventions may be an important component in the use of retinoids to treat human squamous cancers.

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Recommended Citation

Cho, Mimi, "Retinoid -induced regression of human head and neck squamous cell carcinomas is associated with the induction of a pro -inflammatory response" (2000). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9976287.