Reducing the radioresistance of cancer

January 13, 2017, Kumamoto University
Kumamoto University (Japan) researchers revealed that when oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cells are exposed to X-ray irradiation, interleukin-6 levels increase and activate the Nrf2-antioxidant pathway. This leads to the production of antioxidants, such as Mn-SOD and IL-6, inside the nucleus and higher cancer cell radioresistance. Credit: Dr. Yuichiro Matsuoka & Dr. Hideki Nakayama, Adapted by permission from Macmillan Publishers Ltd on behalf of Cancer Research UK: British Journal of Cancer (Y. Matsuoka, et al., "IL-6 controls resistance to radiation by suppressing oxidative stress via the Nrf2-antioxidant pathway in oral squamous cell carcinoma," British Journal of Cancer, vol. 115, no. 10, pp. 1234-1244, 2016.), copyright 2016.

Most people recognize that many forms of cancer are treated with radiation therapy. However, some may not realize that there are cancer cells with the ability to survive this type of treatment. Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one of these forms of cancer, and is the reason why researchers from Kumamoto University in Japan began searching for methods to combat resistance to radiotherapy. Rather than going after the cancer cells directly, they attempted to find a way to control the biological mechanisms that aid in radioresistance. This meant looking at interleukin-6 (IL-6), a cytokine known for signaling the inflammatory response, and nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), which is a protein that protects against oxidative stress.

Their approach consisted of multiple in vitro experiments on two different cancer cell samples. One sample was derived from tissue specimens taken from consenting patients with advanced OSCC who had undergone chemoradiotherapy (30 Gy total dosage). The other consisted of human OSCC cell lines which were obtained from the Japanese Collection of Research Bioresources Cell Bank (Osaka, Japan). These cells were irradiated with doses of either 6 or 10 Gy.

The results of the experiments provided evidence that IL-6 provides protection from to through interaction with the Nrf2-antioxidant pathway. "This interaction and the resulting protection from oxidative damage that we have discovered here is very interesting," said Professor Hideki Nakayama, one of the research group leaders. "As far as we know, we are the first to discover that IL-6 has such an effect on the Nrf2-antioxidant pathway. We hope new therapies that target IL-6 will give us an advantage over many types of radiation-resistant cancers."

The majority of the experiments performed were in vitro, which is a limitation of this study. However, research from the same group has already shown in a mouse model that the immunosuppressive drug tocilizumab, a drug currently used for rheumatoid arthritis, is effective against IL-6R as treatment for OSCC. Future research will attempt to expand on the researcher's idea of reducing the radiation resistance of cancer.

This research can be found in the British Journal of Cancer.

Explore further: Review: methodological limitations for OSCC biomarkers

More information: Yuichiro Matsuoka et al, IL-6 controls resistance to radiation by suppressing oxidative stress via the Nrf2-antioxidant pathway in oral squamous cell carcinoma, British Journal of Cancer (2016). DOI: 10.1038/bjc.2016.327

Related Stories

Review: methodological limitations for OSCC biomarkers

December 5, 2016
(HealthDay)—Methodological concerns have limited the analysis of saliva-based biomarkers for oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), according to a review published online Nov. 29 in Head and Neck.

Antibody drug conjugates may help personalize radiotherapy for patients with cancer

October 4, 2016
Many types of cancer become drug resistant, making them difficult to treat. Researchers with University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Moores Cancer Center have identified a strategy to selectively sensitize ...

Drug combination shuts down cancer stem cells and tumor growth in aggressive lung cancer

March 14, 2016
Researchers on Mayo Clinic's Florida campus have shut down one of the most common and lethal forms of lung cancer by combining the rheumatoid arthritis drug auranofin with an experimental targeted agent.

Hijacking stress response in cancer

July 2, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Cancer cells have alteration in metabolic pathways as a result of oncogenes that promote tumor growth. NRF2 (nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-related factor 2) works as a "master gene" that turns on stress ...

Protein ZEB1 promotes breast tumor resistance to radiation therapy

August 4, 2014
Twist, Snail, Slug. They may sound like words in a children's nursery rhyme, but they are actually the exotic names given to proteins that can generate cells with stem cell-like properties that have the ability to form diverse ...

Recommended for you

Single blood test screens for eight cancer types

January 18, 2018
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center researchers developed a single blood test that screens for eight common cancer types and helps identify the location of the cancer.

Researchers find a way to 'starve' cancer

January 18, 2018
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to starve a tumor and stop its growth with a newly discovered small compound that blocks uptake of the vital ...

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.