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FTY720 increases paclitaxel efficacy in cisplatin-resistant oral squamous cell carcinoma.

BACKGROUND: Oral squamous cell carcinoma has high recurrence and cisplatin resistance. As cancer stem cells, autophagy, and sphingolipids have been appointed as associated with chemotherapy resistance, we tested combined treatments targeting autophagy and/or sphingolipid metabolism with paclitaxel using cisplatin-resistant oral squamous cell carcinoma cells.

METHODS: Cisplatin-resistant oral squamous cell carcinoma cells were maintained under exposition to FTY720 and chloroquine combined with paclitaxel and submitted to viability, clonogenicity, and spheres formation assays. The xenograft tumor model using cisplatin-resistant CAL27 cells was adopted to examine the drug combinations' potential antitumoral efficacy. Using an animal model, sphingolipids profiles from plasma and tissue samples were obtained by liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry to identify potential lipids associated with drug response.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION: Our results showed higher autophagic flux in cisplatin-resistant Ooral squamous cell carcinoma (CAL27 and SCC9) cells than in parental cells. The combinations of an autophagy inhibitor (chloroquine) or an autophagy inducer/sphingosine kinase 1 antagonist (FTY720) with paclitaxel (PTX) had a synergistic antitumor effect. Treated CisR cells lost clonogenicity and tumor sphere abilities and reduced proteins associated with proliferation, survival, and cancer stem cells. FTY720 plus PTX had higher antitumor efficacy than PTX against CAL27 CisR xenograft tumor formation. Additionally, increases in glucosylceramide, dehydroglucosylceramide, and sphingomyelin were presented in responsive tumors.

CONCLUSION: FTY720 sensitizes cisplatin-resistant oral squamous cell carcinoma cells for paclitaxel.

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