Purpose To test the hypothesis that the radiation response of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive and HPV-negative head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) differs and is not reflected in the radiation response of the bulk tumor populations, that radiation therapy (RT) can dedifferentiate non-stem HNSCC cells into CSCs, and that radiation-induced dedifferentiation depends on the HPV status. Methods and Materials Records of a cohort of 162 HNSCC patients were reviewed, and their outcomes were correlated with their HPV status. Using a panel of HPV-positive and HPV-negative HNSCC cell lines expressing a reporter for CSCs, we characterized HPV-positive and HPV-negative lines via flow cytometry, sphere-forming capacity assays in vitro, and limiting dilution assays in vivo. Non-CSCs were treated with different doses of radiation, and the dedifferentiation of non-CSCs into CSCs was investigated via flow cytometry and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction for re-expression of reprogramming factors. Results Patients with HPV-positive tumors have superior overall survival and local-regional control. Human papillomavirus-positive HNSCC cell lines have lower numbers of CSCs, which inversely correlates with radiosensitivity. Human papillomavirus-negative HNSCC cell lines lack hierarchy owing to enhanced spontaneous dedifferentiation. Non-CSCs from HPV-negative lines show enhanced radiation-induced dedifferentiation compared with HPV-positive lines, and RT induced re-expression of Yamanaka reprogramming factors. Conclusions Supporting the favorable prognosis of HPV-positive HNSCCs, we show that (1) HPV-positive HNSCCs have a lower frequency of CSCs; (2) RT can dedifferentiate HNSCC cells into CSCs; and (3) radiation-induced dedifferentiation depends on the HPV status of the tumor.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics|
|State||Published - Apr 1 2016|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cancer Research