In this study, we investigated the mechanisms underlying cetuximab-mediated radiosensitization of HNSCC. Irradiation of HNSCC cells upregulated hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) via a mechanism involving de novo synthesis of HIF-1α protein. Radiation-induced upregulation of HIF-1α was completely abolished by concurrent treatment of HNSCC cells with cetuximab. Experimental elevation of constitutively expressed HIF-1α abolished cetuximab-mediated radiosensitization in HNSCC cells, whereas downregulation of HIF-1α by siRNA or a small molecule inhibitor enhanced responses of cetuximab-resistant HNSCC cells to cetuximab plus radiation. Our data suggest that cetuximab sensitizes cancer cells to ionizing radiation in part through inhibition of radiation-induced upregulation of HIF-1α.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research