Strahlentherapie und Onkologie

, Volume 190, Issue 9, pp 839–846 | Cite as

Increased radiosensitivity of HPV-positive head and neck cancer cell lines due to cell cycle dysregulation and induction of apoptosis

  • Andrea ArenzEmail author
  • Frank Ziemann
  • Christina Mayer
  • Andrea Wittig
  • Kirstin Dreffke
  • Stefanie Preising
  • Steffen Wagner
  • Jens-Peter Klussmann
  • Rita Engenhart-Cabillic
  • Claus Wittekindt
Original article


Background and purpose

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)-related head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) respond favourably to radiotherapy as compared to HPV-unrelated HNSCC. We investigated DNA damage response in HPV-positive and HPV-negative HNSCC cell lines aiming to identify mechanisms, which illustrate reasons for the increased sensitivity of HPV-positive cancers of the oropharynx.


Radiation response including clonogenic survival, apoptosis, DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair, and cell cycle redistribution in four HPV-positive (UM-SCC-47, UM-SCC-104, 93-VU-147T, UPCI:SCC152) and four HPV-negative (UD-SCC-1, UM-SCC-6, UM-SCC-11b, UT-SCC-33) cell lines was evaluated.


HPV-positive cells were more radiosensitive (mean SF2: 0.198 range: 0.22–0.18) than HPV-negative cells (mean SF2: 0.34, range: 0.45–0.27; p = 0.010). Irradiated HPV-positive cell lines progressed faster through S-phase showing a more distinct accumulation in G2/M. The abnormal cell cycle checkpoint activation was accompanied by a more pronounced increase of cell death after x-irradiation and a higher number of residual and unreleased DSBs.


The enhanced responsiveness of HPV-related HNSCC to radiotherapy might be caused by a higher cellular radiosensitivity due to cell cycle dysregulation and impaired DNA DSB repair.


Head and neck cancer HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer Radiosensitivity DNA damage repair 



Für Patienten mit HPV-assoziierten Kopf-Hals-Tumoren (HNSCC) ist im Vergleich zu Patienten mit nicht-HPV-assoziierten Tumoren ein besseres Überleben nach Radiotherapie gesichert. Ziel der Untersuchung war die Identifizierung von Unterschieden in der zellulären DNA-Schadensantwort von HPV-positiven und HPV-negativen Zelllinien, wodurch die bereits in Erprobung stehende Deeskalation einer Radiotherapie bei Patienten mit HPV-assoziierten HNSCC durch experimentelle Daten abgesichert werden könnte.

Material und Methoden

Klonogenes Überleben, Induktion von Apoptose, DNA-Doppelstrang-Reparatur und Zellzyklusverhalten wurden in vier HPV-positiven (UM-SCC-47, UM-SCC-104, 93-VU-147T, UPCI:SCC152) und vier HPV-negativen (UD-SCC-1, UM-SCC-6, UM-SCC-11b, UT-SCC-33) Kopf- und Halstumorzelllinien nach Bestrahlung untersucht.


Die höhere Strahlenempfindlichkeit HPV-assoziierter Zelllinien konnte in vitro bestätigt werden (MW SF2 HPV-positive Zelllinien: 0,198, (range: 0,22–0,18), MW SF2 HPVnegative Zelllinien: 0,34 (0,45–0,27); p = 0,010) (Fig. 1). Durch Zellzyklusanalysen konnte gezeigt werden, dass HPV-positive Zellen nach einem DNA-Schaden die SPhase-schneller durchschreiten und DNA-Schäden in der G2/M-Phase akkumulieren (Figs. 2 und 3). Diese abnorme Schadenskontrolle im Zellzyklus HPV-positiver Zellen geht mit einer gesteigerten Apoptoserate und einer höheren Anzahl nicht reparierter DNA-Strangbrüche (Fig. 5, 6) einher.


Das bessere strahlentherapeutische Ansprechen HPV-assoziierter Tumore könnte in der Dysregulierung des Zellzyklus und in einer verminderten Reparaturleistung begründet sein.


HPV-induzierte Tumore im Kopf-Hals-Bereich Strahlenempfindlichkeit DNA Schadensreparatur 


Compliance with ethical guidelines


This project was in part supported by a research grant of the University Medical Center Giessen and Marburg (UKGM). The authors wish to thank Maike Roth for her excellent technical assistance.

Conflict of interest

A. Arenz, F. Ziemann, C.S.S. Mayer, A. Wittig, K. Dreffke, S. Presing, S. Wagner, J.P. Klussman, R. Engenhart-Cabillic, and C. Wittekindt state that there are no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

66_2014_605_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (688 kb)
(PDF 688 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Arenz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Frank Ziemann
    • 1
  • Christina Mayer
    • 2
  • Andrea Wittig
    • 1
  • Kirstin Dreffke
    • 3
  • Stefanie Preising
    • 1
  • Steffen Wagner
    • 2
  • Jens-Peter Klussmann
    • 2
  • Rita Engenhart-Cabillic
    • 1
  • Claus Wittekindt
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Radiotherapy and Radiooncology, BMFZ—Biomedical Research CenterPhilipps-UniversityMarburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck SurgeryJustus Liebig UniversityGiessenGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Radiobiology and Molecular RadiooncologyPhilipps-UniversityMarburgGermany

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