Glutathione-associated enzymes in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and response to cisplatin-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy

Int J Cancer. 2001 Sep 1;93(5):725-30. doi: 10.1002/ijc.1392.


Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) are metabolic phase II enzymes that promote reactive metabolite elimination by conjugating them to glutathione (GSH). Because of their important role in xenobiotic metabolism and detoxification, they have been implicated in carcinogenesis processes, especially epithelium transformation. Moreover, their influence on response to chemotherapy in cancer patients has been demonstrated. Genetic polymorphisms for GSTM1, GSTT1 and GSTP1 have been found in human populations and have been shown to have phenotypic consequences. To investigate the role of GST enzymes in carcinogenesis and in response to chemotherapy in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), GSTP1, GSTM1 and GSTT1 were studied prospectively in a large series of HNSCC patients. Correlations between GST alterations, p53 mutation status and clinical response to chemotherapy were investigated. We showed that the risk of developing laryngeal cancer was increased by 2.6-fold [95% CI 1.6--6.1] in patients with the GSTM1 null genotype and by 2.8-fold [95% CI 0.9--8.1] in patients with the homozygous GSTP1 val105 genotype. Furthermore, individuals with this latter genotype were over-represented in the p53 mutation group (p = 0.05). After storage duration and hemolysis adjustment, a significantly lower plasmatic GSTP1 level was observed in complete responders compared with partial and non-responders (mean: 4.4 +/- 0.06 microg/l, 4.7 +/- 0.06 microg/l and 4.7 +/- 0.07 microg/l; p = 0.05), respectively. The prevalence of p53-mutated tumors was significantly higher in the group of non-responders (81%) compared with partial (60%) and complete responders (64%) (p = 0.05). Two types of multivariate analysis were performed including parameters that have been shown to influence response to chemotherapy significantly in univariate analysis. p53 mutations and high tumor stage are independent factors of non-response to chemotherapy, whereas plasmatic GSTP1 levels and low tumor stage are independent factors of complete response. Our data suggest that GST enzymes are associated with larynx cancer and that their use as predictive factors and treatment targets should be further explored.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / blood
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / enzymology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • Glutathione S-Transferase pi
  • Glutathione Transferase / blood*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / blood
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / genetics
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Mutation
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Isoenzymes
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • GSTP1 protein, human
  • Glutathione S-Transferase pi
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Cisplatin