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American Head & Neck Society
July 21-25, 2012
Metro Toronto Convention Centre
Toronto, ON, Canada


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IL-6 PROMOTES HEAD AND NECK TUMOR METASTASIS BY INDUCING EPITHELIAL-MESENCHYMAL TRANSITION VIA THE JAK-STAT3-SNAIL SIGNALING PATHWAY

Presentation: P164
Topic: Basic Science
Type: Poster
Date: Sunday - Tuesday, July 22 - 24, 2012
Session: Designated Poster viewing times
Authors: Arti Yadav, MS, Bhavna Kumar, MS, Jharna Datta, PhD, Theodoros N Teknos, MD, Pawan Kumar, MS PhD
Institution(s): Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Distant metastases in head and neck cancer patients almost invariably herald a poor prognosis. Five year survival rates for early stage localized head and neck cancers are over 80% but this drop to 40% where disease has spread to neck nodes, and to below 20% for patients with distant metastatic disease. Uncontrolled cell proliferation and angiogenesis are key characteristics of initiation and early growth of epithelial origin cancers. However, it is the subsequent acquisition of motility and invasiveness that leads to metastatic dissemination of these tumor cells. A key process in this metastatic cascade that converts an adherent epithelial cell into a migratory cell, which can invade through the extracellular matrix, is known as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT plays a critical role in epithelial tumor cell metastasis and is commonly observed in tumor samples from head and neck cancer patients. However, the precise molecular events that initiate this complex process of EMT in head and neck cancers are poorly understood. There is increasing evidence that suggest an important role of tumor microenvironment in promoting EMT changes in tumor cells. We have previously shown that head and neck tumors exhibit significantly higher levels of Bcl-2 expression in tumor associated endothelial cells and overexpression of Bcl-2 alone in tumor-associated endothelial cells was sufficient to enhance tumor metastasis of oral squamous cell carcinoma in a SCID mouse model. In this study, we show that endothelial cells expressing Bcl-2 (EC-Bcl-2) when co-cultured with head and neck tumor cells significantly enhance EMT-related changes in tumor cells and this EC-Bcl-2-induced EMT in tumor cells is mediated predominantly by IL-6 secretion. Treatment with recombinant IL-6 or stable IL-6 overexpression in CAL27 cells or normal oral epithelial cells (NOE) significantly induced the expression of vimentin while repressing E-cadherin expression via the JAK/STAT3/Snail signaling pathway. This phenotype was further associated with enhanced tumor and NOE cell scattering and motility. STAT3 knock-down by siRNA significantly reversed IL-6-mediated tumor and NOE cell motility by inhibiting FAK activation. Furthermore, tumor cells overexpressing IL-6 showed marked increase in lymph node and lung metastasis, in vivo. These results suggest a novel function for IL-6 in mediating head and neck tumor EMT and metastasis.

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