4NQO induced carcinogenesis: A mouse model for oral squamous cell carcinoma

Methods Cell Biol. 2021:163:93-111. doi: 10.1016/bs.mcb.2021.01.001. Epub 2021 Mar 4.


Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is the most common subsite of head and neck cancer, with a 5-year survival rate of only 50%. There is a pressing need for animal models that recapitulate the human disease to understand the factors driving OSCC carcinogenesis. Many laboratories have used the chemical carcinogen 4-nitroquinoline-1-oxide (4NQO) to investigate OSCC formation. The importance of the 4NQO mouse model is that it mimics the stepwise progression observed in OSCC patients. The 4NQO carcinogen model has the advantage that it can be used with transgenic mice with genetic modification in specific tissue types to investigate their role in driving cancer progression. Herein, we describe the basic approach for administering 4NQO to mice to induce OSCC and methods for assessing the tissue and disease progression.

Keywords: 4NQO; Head and neck; Mouse model; Oral squamous cell carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / chemically induced
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / genetics
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / chemically induced
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck


  • 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide