Low doses of methylnaltrexone inhibits head and neck squamous cell carcinoma growth in vitro and in vivo by acting on the mu-opioid receptor

Aysegul Gorur, Miguel Patiño, Ted Shi, German Corrales, Hideaki Takahashi, Roberto Rangel, Frederico O. Gleber-Netto, Curtis Pickering, Jeffrey N. Myers, Juan P. Cata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Mu-opioid receptor (MOR) has been implicated in tumorigenesis and metastasis. Methylnaltrexone (MNTX), an antagonist of MOR, has shown to inhibit tumor growth and metastasis in lung cancer cell lines. The effect of MNTX on other cell lines such as head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has not been investigated. We measured the expression and activity of the receptor in different HNSCC cell lines. Then, we evaluated the impact of modulating the expression MOR and the effect of MNTX on the proliferation, clonogenic activity, invasion, and migration of two HNSCC (FaDu and MDA686Tu) cell lines expressing MOR and one cell line (UMSCC47) not expressing the receptor. We also evaluated the impact of MNTX on tumor growth and metastasis formation in vivo. Activation of the receptor with [d-Ala2,N-Me-Phe4, Gly5-ol] (DAMGO) caused a significant reduction in cyclic adenosine monophosphate levels in FaDu cells. Knockdown of MOR inhibited in vitro aggressive cell behaviors on FaDu and MDA686Tu cells and correlated with a reduction in markers of epithelial–mesenchymal transition. In vitro studies showed that MNTX strongly inhibited the proliferation, clonogenic activity, invasion, and migration of FaDu and MDA686Tu cells but has no effect on UMSCC47 cells. In vivo experiments demonstrated that MNTX suppresses tumor growth in HNSCC cell tumor-bearing mice. Our studies indicate that MOR could be considered as a therapeutic target to treat HNSCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • MNTX
  • MOR
  • OPRM1 gene
  • head and neck cancer
  • metastasis
  • methylnaltrexone
  • mu-opioid receptor
  • oral cancer
  • therapy
  • tumorigenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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