Cytokine changes in response to radio-/chemotherapeutic treatment in head and neck cancer

Stefan Reers, Ann Christin Pfannerstill, Dirk Rades, Regina Maushagen, Michaela Andratschke, Ralph Pries, Barbara Wollenberg*

*Corresponding author for this work
17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Radiation and systemic chemotherapy are standard treatment strategies for advanced or metastatic head and neck cancer. However, little is known about the implications and changes in the tumor microenvironment, including the T-helper (TH)1/TH2 balance in response to these treatment regimens. The aim of the current study was to unravel the effects of chemotherapeutic drugs and radiation on cytokine changes. Materials and Methods: In this study, the effect of radiation and chemotherapeutic treatment (5-fluorouracil and cisplatin) on eight cell lines was determined. Before and after exposure, cytokine levels in culture supernatants of cell lines were evaluated using the Bio-Plex Assay (Bio-Rad) and the Human TH1/TH2 Cytometric Bead Array (Becton Dickinson). Results were correlated with parallel measurements for cellular proliferation assessed by cytotoxicity assay. Results: Seven out of eight cell lines of primary tumors or metastases demonstrated an enhanced level of the cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (GCSF), granulocyte-macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and tumor necrosis factor-A (TNF-A), after sublethal radiation doses. Under treatment with low concentrations of 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin, all examined cell lines showed an increasing secretion of the cytokines IL- 6 and G-CSF. In contrast, sub-lethal doses of both cytostatic drugs revealed a dose-dependent decrease in secretion IL- 1β. Regarding GM-CSF and TNF-A, we demonstrated an increase in secretion by the primary tumors under low doses of 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin, whereas the metastases showed a sharp drop of GM-CSF and TNF-A secretion. Chemotherapeutic treatment led to no changes of the IL-8 cytokine profile. Conclusion: The results suggest complex cytokine changes of the tumor microenvironment and more aberrant expression profiles under treatment with radiation and the chemotherapeutic drugs 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)2481-2490
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2013


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