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Oral Oncol. 2013 Aug;49(8):778-86. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2013.04.003. Epub 2013 May 4.

Atorvastatin inhibits RhoC function and limits head and neck cancer metastasis.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH, USA. Mozaffarul.Islam@osumc.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

RhoC oncogene is a well characterized marker of metastasis in a majority of invasive cancers, including HNSCC. Elevated RhoC expression has been found to be associated with distant metastasis. Statins are a class of drugs that are used to reduce cholesterol levels by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase activity which in turns prevents mevalonate synthesis, which is a precursor for synthesis of cholesterol and prenylation. Interestingly, the proper function of Rho proteins depends on prenylation. Significantly, it has been reported that metastasis in human melanoma can be reduced by atorvastatin which inhibits RhoC activity by preventing its geranylgeranylation. Given that RhoC is a key oncogene involved in metastasis, we hypothesized Atorvastatin can reduce head and neck metastasis by inhibiting RhoC activity.

METHODS:

In vitro and in vivo studies were carried out to evaluate the ability of Atorvastatin to inhibit RhoC function and HNSCC metastasis. Cell motility, proliferation, cell invasion, and colony formation assays were performed according to the standard protocols.

RESULTS:

Atorvastatin treatment significantly reduced the active form of RhoC in vitro and diminished cell motility, invasion, proliferation and colony formation. Importantly, we observed a significant decrease in p-ERK1/2 and p-STAT3 in Atorvastatin treated cell lines. In vivo experiments revealed inhibition of angiogenesis and lung metastases with Atorvastatin therapy.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study is the first of its kind to establish a potential role of Atorvastatin in head and neck cancer therapy. These findings suggest that Atorvastatin can be a potential low risk adjuvant therapy to minimize metastases in aggressive forms of HNSCC.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS:

Geranylation; HMG-COA reductase; Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; Lung metastasis; RhoC

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