Research Papers:

Dihydromyricetin promotes autophagy and apoptosis through ROS-STAT3 signaling in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Teng-Fei Fan, Tian-Fu Wu, Lin-Lin Bu, Si-Rui Ma, Yi-Cun Li, Liang Mao, Zhi-Jun Sun _ and Wen-Feng Zhang

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:59691-59703. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10836

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Teng-Fei Fan1,*, Tian-Fu Wu1,*, Lin-Lin Bu1, Si-Rui Ma1, Yi-Cun Li1, Liang Mao1, Zhi-Jun Sun1,2, Wen-Feng Zhang1,2

1The State Key Laboratory Breeding Base of Basic Science of Stomatology & Key Laboratory of Oral Biomedicine Ministry of Education, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China

2Department of Oral Maxillofacial-Head Neck Oncology, School and Hospital of Stomatology, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Zhi-Jun Sun, email: [email protected]

Wen-Feng Zhang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: dihydromyricetin, autophagy, apoptosis, reactive oxygen species, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Received: April 15, 2016     Accepted: July 10, 2016     Published: July 25, 2016


Chemotherapy is an effective weapon in the battle against cancer, but numerous cancer patients are either not sensitive to chemotherapy or develop drug resistance to current chemotherapy regimens. Therefore, an effective chemotherapy mechanism that enhances tumor sensitivity to chemotherapeutics is urgently needed. The aim of the present study was to determine the antitumor activity of dihydromyricetin (DHM) on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and its underlying mechanisms. We demonstrated that DHM can markedly induce apoptotic cell death and autophagy in HNSCC cells. Meanwhile, increased autophagy inhibited apoptosis. Pharmacological or genetic inhibition of autophagy further sensitized the HNSCC cells to DHM-induced apoptosis. Mechanistic analysis showed that the antitumor of DHM may be due to the activation phosphorylation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (p-STAT3), which contributed to autophagy. Importantly, DHM triggered reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation in the HNSCC cells and the levels of ROS decreased with N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC), a ROS scavenger. Moreover, NAC abrogated the effects of DHM on STAT3-dependent autophagy. Overall, the following critical issues were observed: first, DHM increased the p-STAT3-dependent autophagy by generating ROS-signaling pathways in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Second, inhibiting autophagy could enhance DHM-induced apoptosis in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

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