Research Papers:

This article has been corrected. Correction in: Oncotarget. 2019; 10:5724-5725.

Metformin sensitizes anticancer effect of dasatinib in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cells through AMPK-dependent ER stress

Yu-Chin Lin, Meng-Hsuan Wu, Tzu-Tang Wei, Yun-Chieh Lin, Wen-Chih Huang, Liang-Yu Huang, Yi-Ting Lin and Ching-Chow Chen _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:298-308. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.1628

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Yu-Chin Lin1,2,3, Meng-Hsuan Wu1,*, Tzu-Tang Wei1,*, Yun-Chieh Lin1,*, Wen-Chih Huang4, Liang-Yu Huang1, Yi-Ting Lin1, and Ching-Chow Chen1

1 Graduate Institute of Pharmacology, National Taiwan University College of Medicine;

2 Department of Oncology, National Taiwan University Hospital;

3 Department of Internal Medicine and

4 Department of Pathology, Far-Eastern Memorial Hospital;

* Equal contribution to work


Ching-Chow Chen, email:

Keywords: AMPK, ER stress, EGFR, dasatinib, PDK4

Received: November 26, 2013 Accepted: January 7, 2014 Published: January 7, 2014


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is an important endemic disease in Taiwan with aggressive course and dismal outcome. Dasatinib is a Bcr-bl and Src kinase inhibitor that has potential against HNSCC. We recently disclosed that EGFR degradation is critical for dasatinib-induced apoptosis. Here, we further demonstrate that AMPK-dependent ER stress is responsible for this event. Dasatinib induced ER stress which mediated EGFR degradation in a c-cbl-dependent manner. AMPK activation induced by dasatinib might be due to ATP decrease through the up-regulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4). Furthermore, activation of AMPK by metformin sensitized dasatinib-induced in vitro and in vivo anti-cancer effect. The correlation of AMPK activation and EGFR expression was seen in HNSCC cells and human tumor specimens. Our results disclose that AMPK-dependent ER stress plays a crucial role in the anti-cancer effect of dasatinib in HNSCC and further activation of AMPK by metformin might enhance dasatinib efficacy.

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