Research Papers:

Acquisition cancer stemness, mesenchymal transdifferentiation, and chemoresistance properties by chronic exposure of oral epithelial cells to arecoline

Tung Yuan Wang, Chih-Yu Peng, Shiuan-Shinn Lee, Ming-Yung Chou, Cheng-Chia Yu and Yu-Chao Chang _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:84072-84081. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.11432

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Tung Yuan Wang1,*, Chih-Yu Peng1,2,*, Shiuan-Shinn Lee4, Ming-Yung Chou1,2,3, Cheng-Chia Yu1,2,3, Yu-Chao Chang1,2

1School of Dentistry, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan

2Department of Dentistry, Chung Shan Medical University Hospital, Taichung, Taiwan

3Institute of Oral Sciences, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan

4School of Public Health, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Cheng-Chia Yu, email: [email protected]

Yu-Chao Chang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: arecoline, cancer stemness, oral squamous cell carcinomas

Received: November 09, 2015     Accepted: August 13, 2016     Published: August 20, 2016


Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), one of the most deadliest malignancies in the world, is caused primarily by areca nut chewing in Southeast Asia. The mechanisms by which areca nut participates in OSCC tumorigenesis are not well understood. In this study, we investigated the effects of low dose long-term arecoline (10 μg/mL, 90-days), a major areca nut alkaloid, on enhancement cancer stemness of human oral epithelial (OE) cells. OE cells with chronic arecoline exposure resulted in increased ALDH1 population, CD44 positivity, stemness-related transcription factors (Oct4, Nanog, and Sox2), epithelial-mesenchymal transdifferentiation (EMT) traits, chemoresistance, migration/invasiveness/anchorage independent growth and in vivo tumor growth as compared to their untreated controls. Mechanistically, ectopic miR-145 over-expression in chronic arecoline-exposed OE (AOE) cells inhibited the cancer stemness and xenografic. In AOE cells, luciferase reporter assays further revealed that miR-145 directly targets the 3′ UTR regions of Oct4 and Sox2 and overexpression of Sox2/Oct4 effectively reversed miR-145-regulated cancer stemness-associated phenomenas. Additionally, clinical results further revealed that Sox2 and Oct4 expression was inversely correlated with miR-145 in the tissues of areca quid chewing-associated OSCC patients. This study hence attempts to provide novel insight into areca nut-induced oral carcinogenesis and new intervention for the treatment of OSCC patients, especially in areca nut users.

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