Small Molecules Alter VEGFR and PTEN Expression in HPV-positive and -negative SCC: New Hope for Targeted-therapy.

Anticancer research

PubMedID: 25750290

Aderhold C, Faber A, Umbreit C, Chakraborty A, Bockmayer A, Birk R, Sommer JU, Hörmann K, Schultz JD. Small Molecules Alter VEGFR and PTEN Expression in HPV-positive and -negative SCC: New Hope for Targeted-therapy. Anticancer Res. 2015;35(3):1389-99.
Prognosis for patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is poor in most cases and has not improved despite advances in therapy. Novel therapeutic approaches are mandatory in order to improve the situation. Everolimus, an inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin, as well as the multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitors sorafenib and sunitinib, has demonstrated a substantial therapeutic effect in various types of human cancer with moderate side-effects. Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) 1 and 2, and of the tumor-suppressor protein phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) were evaluated in chemonaïve human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive and -negative squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and after exposure to everolimus, sorafenib or sunitinib.

p16-positive CERV196 and p16-negative HNSCC 11A and 14C cells were incubated with different drug concentrations for 48-192 h. Expression of VEGFR1 and -2 as well as PTEN were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and was compared to a chemonaïve control.

VEGFR1 and -2, as well as PTEN, were expressed in all three cell lines. Sunitinib, sorafenib and everolimus significantly reduced the expression of VEGFR1 and -2, especially in p16-positive CERV196 cells. Sunitinib appeared to be more effective in reducing VEGFR1 and -2 expression than sorafenib and everolimus. PTEN levels were remarkably lower in HPV-positive CERV196 cells. PTEN expression increased significantly under sunitinib and sorafenib in HNSCC 11A and CERV196 cells. Everolimus, on the other hand, led to a significant decrease of PTEN expression in these cell lines.

The tested drugs displayed a remarkable anti-angiogenic effect by inhibition of VEGFR1 and -2 expression. Sunitinib and sorafenib were able to increase PTEN expression, which might induce apoptosis of cancer cells. HPV-positive CERV196 cells were characterized by an increased susceptibility to these small-molecule drugs. Further studies are imperative to scrutinize HPV status-dependent differences in drug response and possible implications for future treatment options.