Retinoid-induced suppression of squamous cell differentiation in human oral squamous cell carcinoma xenografts (line 1483) in athymic nude mice. Academic Article uri icon


  • Retinoids are promising agents for therapy of squamous cancers. In vitro, retinoids decrease expression of differentiation markers in head and neck squamous carcinoma cells. Little information is available on effects of retinoids on head and neck squamous carcinoma cell xenograft growth in vivo. To address this issue, head and neck squamous carcinoma cells (line 1483) were established as xenografts in nude mice. Control tumors grew rapidly with doubling times of 4-6 days to mean volumes of 1696 mm3 after 24 days. Histological analyses indicated the formation of well-differentiated squamous carcinoma cells exhibiting pronounced stratification (basal and suprabasal cells) and keratinization (keratin pearls) with abundant stroma. Cytokeratin 19 expression was restricted to the basal cell layers, and cytokeratin 4 expression was abundant in suprabasal cells. Mice were treated daily with 30 mg/kg 9-cis retinoic acid, 20 mg/kg all-trans-retinoic acid, or 60 mg/kg 13-cis retinoic acid by p.o. gavage on a schedule of 5 days/week over 4 weeks. Low micromolar (1.48-3.67 microM) and nanomolar (200-490 nM) concentrations of 9-cis retinoic acid and all-trans-retinoic acid were measured in plasmas and xenografts, respectively, 30 min after dosing. Retinoid treatment produced a marked suppression of the squamous cell differentiation of tumor cells manifest by decreased keratinization, loss of stratification, and accumulation of basal cells. This was accompanied by large decreases in the number of CK4-positive cells and concomitant increases of CK19-positive cells. REtinoic acid receptor-beta expression was also increased by 2.9-9.7-fold after chronic retinoid treatment. 9-cis retinoic acid and all-trans-retinoic acid decreased tumor volumes by 23 +/- 5 (SE) and 19 +/- 3%, respectively (P < or = 0.05); 13-cis retinoic acid was inactive. These retinoids did not decrease the rate of exponential tumor growth but increased the latent period until exponential growth began. These studies demonstrate that retinoids do not universally decrease tumor growth but profoundly suppress squamous cell differentiation in vivo in this xenograft model.

published proceedings

  • Cancer Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Shalinsky, D. R., Bischoff, E. D., Gregory, M. L., Gottardis, M. M., Hayes, J. S., Lamph, W. W., ... Davies, P. J.

citation count

  • 34

complete list of authors

  • Shalinsky, DR||Bischoff, ED||Gregory, ML||Gottardis, MM||Hayes, JS||Lamph, WW||Heyman, RA||Shirley, MA||Cooke, TA||Davies, PJ

publication date

  • July 1995