Evaluation of tyrosine receptor kinases in the interactions of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells and fibroblasts

Oral Oncol. 2012 Dec;48(12):1242-9. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2012.06.011. Epub 2012 Jul 13.


Objective: Despite treatment advancements, disease-free survival of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has not significantly improved. This may be a result of tumor-fibroblasts interactions providing protective pathways for oncogenic cells to resist therapy. Further understanding of these relationships in HNSCC may improve effectiveness of targeted therapies. In this article, we investigated the role of several receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) in the interactions between HNSCC cells and supporting cells (fibroblasts).

Materials and methods: HNSCC cell lines and human tumor samples were evaluated for FGFR1/2/3, and PDGF-beta expression levels. Cell lines (FADU, SCC1, OSC19, Cal27, SCC22A) were treated with a range of physiological concentrations of dovitinib and assessed for proliferation, cytotoxicity, and apoptosis. Mice bearing HNSCC xenografts were treated with dovitinib (20 mg/kg).

Results: Evaluation of HNSCC tumor specimens, cell lines and fibroblasts found variable expression of multiple RTKs (fibroblasts growth factor receptor, platelet derived growth factor receptor and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor) and their ligands, supporting previous theories of paracrine and autocrine signaling within the microenvironment. In a dose-dependent fashion, RTK inhibition reduced proliferation of HNSCC cell lines and fibroblast in vitro. When HNSCC cells were cocultured with fibroblasts, RTK inhibition resulted in a smaller reduction in the proliferation relative to untreated conditions. In vivo, RTK inhibition resulted in significant tumor regression and growth inhibition (p<0.05) and reduced the incidence of regional lymph node metastasis.

Conclusion: Effective treatment of HNSCC, therefore, may require inhibition of multiple RTKs in order to adequately inhibit the microenvironment's various signaling pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / enzymology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / enzymology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*


  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases