Objective Patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) have significant wound-healing difficulties. While adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) facilitate wound healing, ASCs may accelerate recurrence when applied to a cancer field. This study evaluates the impact of ASCs on HNSCC cell lines in vitro and in vivo. Study Design In vitro experiments using HNSCC cell lines and in vivo mouse experiments. Setting Basic science laboratory. Subjects and Methods Impact of ASCs on in vitro proliferation, survival, and migration was assessed using 8 HNSCC cell lines. One cell line was used in a mouse orthotopic xenograft model to evaluate in vivo tumor growth in the presence and absence of ASCs. Results Addition of ASCs did not increase the number of HNSCC cells. In clonogenic assays to assess cell survival, addition of ASCs increased colony formation only in SCC9 cells (maximal effect 2.3-fold, P < .02) but not in other HNSCC cell lines. In scratch assays to assess migration, fluorescently tagged ASCs did not migrate appreciably and did not increase the rate of wound closure in HNSCC cell lines. Addition of ASCs to HNSCC xenografts did not increase tumor growth. Conclusion Using multiple in vitro and in vivo approaches, ASCs did not significantly stimulate HNSCC cell proliferation or migration and increased survival in only a single cell line. These findings preliminarily suggest that the use of ASCs may be safe in the setting of HNSCC but that further investigation on the therapeutic use of ASCs in the setting of HNSCC is needed.
Keywords: adipose stem cells; head and neck cancer; head and neck reconstruction; radiation injury; squamous cell carcinoma; wound healing.