Wiechec E, Matic N, Ali A, Roberg K
Oncol. Rep. 47 (3) - [2022-03-00; online 2022-01-21]
Hypoxia has been linked with increased resistance to treatment in various solid tumors, including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The aim of the present study was to identify genes involved in hypoxia‑mediated responses to radiotherapy in HNSCC. A total of three HNSCC cell lines with an epithelial phenotype were selected for this study and cultured under normoxic (21% O2) or hypoxic (1% O2) conditions. The sensitivity of the HNSCC cells to radiotherapy was assessed by a crystal violet assay. Western blotting (for protein expression), cDNA microarrays and reverse transcription‑quantitative PCR (for gene expression) were also applied. Small interfering RNA silencing was used to knock down target genes. The results revealed that hypoxia negatively affected the response of HNSCC cells to radiotherapy. Of note, increased levels of N‑cadherin, vimentin and fibronectin, as well as stem cell‑associated transcription factors, were observed under hypoxia. The microarray analysis revealed a number of hypoxia‑regulated genes that were involved in multiple biological functions. However, downregulation of hypoxia‑regulated genes did not affect sensitivity to radiotherapy of the investigated cell lines. Taken together, the present findings indicated several important pathways and genes that were involved in hypoxia and radiotherapy resistance. It is hypothesized that panels of reported hypoxia‑regulated genes may be useful for the prediction of radiotherapy responses in patients with HNSCC.