Reduction of Proliferation and Induction of Apoptosis are Associated with Shrinkage of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma due to Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy

  • Sarkar, Shreya (Department of Oncogene Regulation, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute) ;
  • Maiti, Guru Prasad (Department of Oncogene Regulation, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute) ;
  • Jha, Jayesh (Department of Surgical Oncology, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute) ;
  • Biswas, Jaydip (Department of Surgical Oncology, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute) ;
  • Roy, Anup (North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, West Bengal) ;
  • Roychoudhury, Susanta (Molecular and Human Genetics Division, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology) ;
  • Sharp, Tyson (Molecular Oncology, Barts Cancer Institute) ;
  • Panda, Chinmay Kumar (Department of Oncogene Regulation, Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute)
  • Published : 2013.11.30


Background: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) is a treatment modality whereby chemotherapy is used as the initial treatment of HNSCC in patients presenting with advanced cancer that cannot be treated by other means. It leads to shrinkage of tumours to an operable size without significant compromise to essential oro-facial organs of the patients. The molecular mechanisms behind shrinkage due to NACT is not well elucidated. Materials and Methods: Eleven pairs of primary HNSCCs and adjacent normal epithelium, before and after chemotherapy were screened for cell proliferation and apoptosis. This was followed by immunohistochemical analysis of some cell cycle (LIMD1, RBSP3, CDC25A, CCND1, cMYC, RB, pRB), DNA repair (MLH1, p53) and apoptosis (BAX, BCL2) associated proteins in the same set of samples. Results: Significant decrease in proliferation index and increase in apoptotic index was observed in post-therapy tumors compared to pre-therapy. Increase in the RB/pRB ratio, along with higher expression of RBSP3 and LIMD1 and lower expression of cMYC were observed in post-therapy tumours, while CCND1 and CDC25A remained unchanged. While MLH1 remained unchanged, p53 showed higher expression in post-therapy tumors, indicating inhibition of cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Increase in the BAX/BCL2 ratio was observed in post-therapy tumours, indicating up-regulation of apoptosis in response to therapy. Conclusions: Thus, modulation of the G1/S cell cycle regulatory proteins and apoptosis associated proteins might play an important role in tumour shrinkage due to NACT.


Proliferation;apoptosis;neoadjuvant chemotherapy;head and neck squamous cell carcinoma


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