International Journal of Clinical Oncology

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 133–140 | Cite as

Inhibitory effects of dietary glucosylceramides on squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck in NOD/SCID mice

  • Kazunori Fujiwara
  • Kazuyuki Kitatani
  • Kei Fukushima
  • Hiroaki Yazama
  • Hisanori Umehara
  • Mitsunori Kikuchi
  • Yasuyuki Igarashi
  • Hiroya Kitano
  • Toshiro Okazaki
Original Article



Sphingolipids, components of cellular membranes in eukaryotic cells, have roles in the regulation of tumor growth, inflammation, angiogenesis, and immunity. We investigated the effects of dietary glucosylceramides, sphingolipids isolated from rice bran, on tumor growth of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.


The tumor cell line SCCKN cells isolated from well-differentiated human head and neck cancer were subcutaneously inoculated into the right flank of NOD/SCID mice, to establish an SCCKN xenograft model. Rice bran glucosylceramides (300 mg/kg/day) were administered orally to the mice for 14 consecutive days.


Dietary glucosylceramides significantly inhibited the growth of the xenograft tumor in comparison with the control group. The TUNEL stain revealed that treatment of mice with glucosylceramides increased the number of apoptotic cells in the implanted tumor tissues and that apoptosis induction was accompanied by the formation of active/cleaved caspase-3.


These results suggest that dietary glucosylceramides possibly exert anti-tumor activity by inducing apoptosis of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Therefore, their potential usefulness in treatment and prevention of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma warrants further investigation.


Ceramide Head and neck cancer Squamous cell carcinoma Dietary glucosylceramide Rice bran Apoptosis 



This study was supported in part by the Sapporo Biocluster “Bio-S”, the Knowledge Cluster Initiative of the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology (Japan), and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (Start-up) 21890144) (to K.K.).

Conflict of interest

M. Kikuchi is employed by Oryza Oil & Fat Chemical. No other author has a conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Japan Society of Clinical Oncology 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kazunori Fujiwara
    • 1
  • Kazuyuki Kitatani
    • 2
  • Kei Fukushima
    • 1
  • Hiroaki Yazama
    • 1
  • Hisanori Umehara
    • 3
  • Mitsunori Kikuchi
    • 4
  • Yasuyuki Igarashi
    • 5
  • Hiroya Kitano
    • 1
  • Toshiro Okazaki
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Faculty of MedicineTottori UniversityYonagoJapan
  2. 2.Division of Clinical Laboratory Medicine and Hematology/Oncology, Faculty of MedicineTottori UniversityYonagoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Hematology and ImmunologyKanazawa Medical UniversityUchinadaJapan
  4. 4.Product Design and Development SectionOryza Oil & Fat Chemical Co., Ltd.AichiJapan
  5. 5.Laboratory of Biomembrane and Biofunctional Chemistry, Faculty of Advanced Life SciencesHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan

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