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ABSTRACT: Cancer stem-like cell (CSC; also known as tumor initiating cell) is defined as a small subpopulation of cancer cells within a tumor and isolated from various primary tumors and cancer cell lines. CSCs are highly tumorigenic and resistant to anticancer treatments. In this study, we found that prolonged exposure to tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα), a major proinflammatory cytokine, enhances CSC phenotype of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cells, such as an increase in tumor sphere-forming ability, stem cell-associated genes expression, chemo-radioresistance, and tumorigenicity. Moreover, activation of Notch1 signaling was detected in the TNFα-exposed cells, and suppression of Notch1 signaling inhibited CSC phenotype. Furthermore, we demonstrated that inhibition of a Notch downstream target, Hes1, led to suppression of CSC phenotype in the TNFα-exposed cells. We also found that Hes1 expression is commonly upregulated in OSCC lesions compared to precancerous dysplastic lesions, suggesting the possible involvement of Hes1 in OSCC progression and CSC in vivo. In conclusion, inflammatory cytokine exposure may enhance CSC phenotype of OSCC, in part by activating the Notch-Hes1 pathway.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 06/2012; 424(1):58-64. · 2.28 Impact Factor