Lasers in Medical Science

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 499–507 | Cite as

RUNX3 confers sensitivity to pheophorbide a-photodynamic therapy in human oral squamous cell carcinoma cell lines

  • Sook Moon
  • Jung Yoon Bae
  • Hwa-Kyung Son
  • Doo Young Lee
  • Gyeongju Park
  • Hyun You
  • Hyojin Ko
  • Yong-Chul Kim
  • Jin KimEmail author
Original Article


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) with photosensitizer is one of the promising modalities for cancer treatment. For clinical use of PDT, screening process should be preceded to enhance sensitivity to PDT. Thus, we investigated a molecular biomarker to determine the sensitivity to pheophorbide a (Pa)-PDT in immortalized human oral keratinocytes (IHOK) and oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cell lines. Two IHOK and several OSCC cell lines were used. After Pa-PDT, cell viability was reduced by more than 50 %, and reactive oxygen species were generated in IHOK and OSCC cell lines. Additionally, apoptosis occurred in PDT-treated cells. IHOK(S) and IHOK(P), the two IHOK cell lines derived from the same source, showed a difference in cytotoxicity after Pa-PDT. To explain this difference in cytotoxicity, we looked at the expression of Wnt signaling-related genes in these two cell lines, for the morphology of IHOK(S) which was spindle like and elongated and distinct from IHOK(P) and the parent cell. Among the relevant genes, runt-related transcription factor 3 (RUNX3), an apoptosis-related gene, was selected as a potential marker that confers sensitivity to PDT. We found that the cytotoxicity by Pa-PDT was proportional to RUNX3 expression in OSCC cell lines. Additionally, knockdown of RUNX3 expression reduced cytotoxicity by Pa-PDT, suggesting that RUNX3 might be a biomarker to determine sensitivity to Pa-PDT. This was the first study to find a new target molecule that enhances Pa-PDT effects in IHOK and OSCC cell lines. Hence, the development of a PDT-dependent biomarker could provide a novel approach to improve the effects of PDT on oral precancerous and cancerous lesions.


Photodynamic therapy Pheophorbide a Oral squamous cell carcinoma Immortalized human oral keratinocytes RUNX3 



This study was supported by a grant from the Korean Health Technology R&D Project from the Ministry for Health, Welfare & Family Affairs, Republic of Korea (no. A100490).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sook Moon
    • 1
  • Jung Yoon Bae
    • 1
  • Hwa-Kyung Son
    • 1
  • Doo Young Lee
    • 1
  • Gyeongju Park
    • 2
  • Hyun You
    • 3
  • Hyojin Ko
    • 4
  • Yong-Chul Kim
    • 4
  • Jin Kim
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Oral Pathology, Oral Cancer Research Institute, Brain Korea 21 Project, College of DentistryYonsei UniversitySeoulSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of Oral Histology, The School of DentistryDankook UniversityCheon-AnSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of Medical System EngineeringGwangju Institute of Science and TechnologyGwangjuSouth Korea
  4. 4.Department of Life SciencesGwangju Institute of Science and TechnologyGwangjuSouth Korea

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