Combination cisplatin and sulforaphane treatment reduces proliferation, invasion, and tumor formation in epidermal squamous cell carcinoma

Mol Carcinog. 2018 Jan;57(1):3-11. doi: 10.1002/mc.22714. Epub 2017 Aug 28.


Epidermal squamous cell carcinoma is an extremely common type of cancer. Early tumors can be successfully treated by surgery, but recurrent disease is aggressive and resistant to therapy. Cisplatin is often used as a treatment, but the outcome is rarely satisfactory. For this reason new strategies are required. Sulforaphane is a diet-derived cancer prevention agent that is effective in suppressing tumor growth in animal models of skin cancer. We monitored the efficacy of sulforaphane and cisplatin as a combined therapy for squamous cell carcinoma. Both agents suppress cell proliferation, growth of cancer stem cell spheroids, matrigel invasion and migration of SCC-13 and HaCaT cells, and combination treatment is more efficient. In addition, SCC-13 cell derived cancer stem cells are more responsive to these agents than non-stem cancer cells. Both agents suppress tumor formation, but enhanced suppression is observed with combined treatment. Moreover, both agents reduce the number of tumor-resident cancer stem cells. SFN treatment of cultured cells or tumors increases apoptosis and p21Cip1 level, and both agents increase tumor apoptosis. We suggest that combined therapy with sulforaphane and cisplatin is efficient in suppressing tumor formation and may be a treatment option for advanced epidermal squamous cell carcinoma.

Keywords: HaCaT; SCC-13; SFN; cancer stem cells; cisplatin; squamous cell carcinoma; sulforaphane.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects*
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21 / metabolism
  • Epidermis / drug effects
  • Epidermis / metabolism
  • Epidermis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Isothiocyanates / administration & dosage
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Sulfoxides
  • Tumor Burden / drug effects
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • CDKN1A protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p21
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Sulfoxides
  • sulforaphane
  • Cisplatin