The role of non-coding RNAs in drug resistance of oral squamous cell carcinoma and therapeutic potential

Cancer Commun (Lond). 2021 Jul 20. doi: 10.1002/cac2.12194. Online ahead of print.


Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), the eighth most prevalent cancer in the world, arises from the interaction of multiple factors including tobacco, alcohol consumption, and betel quid. Chemotherapeutic agents such as cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil, and paclitaxel have now become the first-line options for OSCC patients. Nevertheless, most OSCC patients eventually acquire drug resistance, leading to poor prognosis. With the discovery and identification of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), the functions of dysregulated ncRNAs in OSCC development and drug resistance are gradually being widely recognized. The mechanisms of drug resistance of OSCC are intricate and involve drug efflux, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, DNA damage repair, and autophagy. At present, strategies to explore the reversal of drug resistance of OSCC need to be urgently developed. Nano-delivery and self-cellular drug delivery platforms are considered as effective strategies to overcome drug resistance due to their tumor targeting, controlled release, and consistent pharmacokinetic profiles. In particular, the combined application of new technologies (including CRISPR systems) opened up new horizons for the treatment of drug resistance of OSCC. Hence, this review explored emerging regulatory functions of ncRNAs in drug resistance of OSCC, elucidated multiple ncRNA-meditated mechanisms of drug resistance of OSCC, and discussed the potential value of drug delivery platforms using nanoparticles and self-cells as carriers in drug resistance of OSCC.

Keywords: drug delivery; drug resistance; long non-coding RNAs; microRNAs; non-coding RNA (ncRNA); oral squamous cell carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review