Enhancement of Ad-p53 therapy with docetaxel in head and neck cancer

Laryngoscope. 2004 Nov;114(11):1871-9. doi: 10.1097/01.mlg.0000147914.51239.ed.


Objective: The objective of this project was to determine the mechanisms in which docetaxel enhances Ad-p53 tumor suppressive effects in head and neck cancer.

Background: In advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), the 5-year survival rate is less than 40%. Because patients with advanced HNSCC have a high rate of local-regional failure (40-60%) with existing treatment modalities, aggressive local therapy approaches need to be developed. Previous data show that docetaxel or Ad-p53 alone have significant anti-tumor activity in HNSCC. Before testing whether a combination approach (Ad-p53 and docetaxel) could be developed in clinical trials, preclinical experiments were performed.

Methods: The p53 gene was overexpressed in 2 head and neck squamous carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines, HN30 and HN12, and a murine Balb/c mucoepidermoid carcinoma (BMEC) cell line. Docetaxel's enhancement of adenoviral transduction (bGAL expression), coxsakie-adenovirus receptor (CAR) expression, and Ad-p53 induction of apoptosis (Annexin V expression) were measured. The modulation of regulators in the cell cycle, apoptosis and signal transduction pathways were measured using Western blot.

Results: Docetaxel increased adenoviral transduction, which was dependent on the dose of docetaxel and levels of Ad-bGAL. The enhanced viral transduction was due in part to the upregulation of the CAR protein. Pretreatment with docetaxel enhanced Ad-p53-induced apoptosis through increased expression of exogenous p53. Together, the combination of docetaxel and Ad-p53 altered expression of key regulators in the cell cycle, apoptosis and signal transduction pathways with an increase in the expression of p53, bax, cleaved PARP, cleaved caspase-3 and phosphorylation of c-Jun at position at Ser. Cyclin A and B1 expression were down regulated by docetaxel and Ad-p53. When comparing the docetaxel-resistant to sensitive cell lines, the altered expression of p27 and skp1 by docetaxel and Ad-p53 were dissimilar between these cell lines.

Conclusions: Docetaxel enhanced Ad-p53 transduction and increased expression of exogenous p53 gene transfer, apoptosis, and antitumor mechanisms. These results support a clinical combination of docetaxel with p53 gene therapy in patients with head and neck cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Bridged-Ring Compounds / pharmacology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Docetaxel
  • Enterovirus / drug effects
  • Enterovirus / genetics
  • Enterovirus / metabolism
  • Genetic Therapy* / methods
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Protein Biosynthesis / drug effects
  • Taxoids / pharmacology
  • Taxoids / therapeutic use*
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Bridged-Ring Compounds
  • Taxoids
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Docetaxel
  • taxane