Inhibition of CDK4/CDK6 Enhances Radiosensitivity of HPV Negative Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinomas.
Göttgens E-L., Bussink J., Leszczynska KB., Peters H., Span PN., Hammond EM.
PURPOSE: Human papillomavirus negative (HPV-ve) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has a poor prognosis compared with HPV+ve HNSCCs. Expression of p16 in HPV+ve HNSCC is thought to mediate radiosensitivity via inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 4/6. We used a clinically approved CDK4/CDK6 inhibitor, palbociclib, and assessed its effect on radiosensitivity in HNSCC. METHODS AND MATERIALS: The effect of palbociclib on radiosensitivity was determined in HPV-ve and HPV+ve HNSCC cell lines using colony survival assays, immunofluorescent staining of repair proteins, homologous recombination assays, cell cycle, and metaphase spread analyses. RESULTS: Only HPV-ve HNSCC cells were radiosensitized by palbociclib, which also occurred at hypoxic levels associated with radioresistance. Palbociclib led to decreased induction of BRCA1 and RAD51 after irradiation. Homologous recombination was diminished and repair of radiation-induced DNA damage was delayed in the presence of palbociclib, leading to increased chromosomal damage. Failure to repair radiation-induced damage led to cell death as a result of mitotic catastrophe. CONCLUSIONS: Here, we highlight a therapeutic strategy to improve the radiosensitivity of HPV-ve HNSCC, a patient group that has an unmet and urgent need for improved radiation therapy efficacy.