Purpose: Mortality of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is primarily driven by tumor cell radioresistance leading to locoregional recurrence (LRR). In this study, we use a classification of TP53 mutation (disruptive vs. nondisruptive) and examine impact on clinical outcomes and radiation sensitivity. Experimental Design: Seventy-four patients with HNSCC treated with surgery and postoperative radiation and 38 HNSCC cell lines were assembled; for each, TP53 was sequenced and the in vitro radioresistance measured using clonogenic assays. p53 protein expression was inhibited using short hairpin RNA (shRNA) and overexpressed using a retrovirus. Radiation-induced apoptosis, mitotic cell death, senescence, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) assays were carried out. The effect of the drug metformin on overcoming mutant p53-associated radiation resistance was examined in vitro as well as in vivo, using an orthotopic xenograft model. Results: Mutant TP53 alone was not predictive of LRR; however, disruptive TP53 mutation strongly predicted LRR (P = 0.03). Cell lines with disruptive mutations were significantly more radioresistant (P < 0.05). Expression of disruptive TP53 mutations significantly decreased radiation-induced senescence, as measured by SA-b-gal staining, p21 expression, and release of ROS. The mitochondrial agent metformin potentiated the effects of radiation in the presence of a disruptive TP53 mutation partially via senescence. Examination of our patient cohort showed that LRR was decreased in patients taking metformin. Conclusions: Disruptive TP53 mutations in HNSCC tumors predicts for LRR, because of increased radioresistance via the inhibition of senescence. Metformin can serve as a radiosensitizer for HNSCC with disruptive TP53, presaging the possibility of personalizing HNSCC treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research