The role of Smad7 in oral mucositis

Protein Cell. 2015 Mar;6(3):160-9. doi: 10.1007/s13238-014-0130-4. Epub 2015 Jan 8.


Oral mucositis, a severe oral ulceration, is a common toxic effect of radio- or chemoradio-therapy and a limiting factor to using the maximum dose of radiation for effective cancer treatment. Among cancer patients, at least 40% and up to 70%, of individuals treated with standard chemotherapy regimens or upper-body radiation, develop oral mucositis. To date, there is no FDA approved drug to treat oral mucositis in cancer patients. The key challenges for oral mucositis treatment are to repair and protect ulcerated oral mucosa without promoting cancer cell growth. Oral mucositis is the result of complex, multifaceted pathobiology, involving a series of signaling pathways and a chain of interactions between the epithelium and submucosa. Among those pathways and interactions, the activation of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) is critical to the inflammation process of oral mucositis. We recently found that activation of TGFβ (transforming growth factor β) signaling is associated with the development of oral mucositis. Smad7, the negative regulator of TGFβ signaling, inhibits both NF-κB and TGFβ activation and thus plays a pivotal role in the prevention and treatment of oral mucositis by attenuating growth inhibition, apoptosis, and inflammation while promoting epithelial migration. The major objective of this review is to evaluate the known functions of Smad7, with a particular focus on its molecular mechanisms and its function in blocking multiple pathological processes in oral mucositis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Mouth Diseases / metabolism*
  • Mouth Diseases / pathology
  • Mouth Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Smad7 Protein / metabolism*
  • Stomatitis / metabolism*
  • Stomatitis / pathology
  • Stomatitis / prevention & control*


  • Smad7 Protein