Medical Oncology

, 35:58 | Cite as

Acid sphingomyelinase activity as an indicator of the cell stress in HPV-positive and HPV-negative head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

  • Mirko Gerle
  • Tuula Peñate Medina
  • Aydin Gülses
  • Hanwen Chu
  • Hendrik Naujokat
  • Jörg Wiltfang
  • Yahya Açil
Original Paper


Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, especially HPV-16 and HPV-18, has been increasingly associated with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The treatment of HPV-positive squamous cell carcinoma has a better response to both radiotherapy and chemotherapy and presents a better prognosis for the patient. Defining the underlying mechanism of the difference might help in developing future treatment options and could be an important factor in personal therapy planning. Endogenously secreted acid sphingomyelinase (ASMase) levels in the cellular stress caused by irradiation and cisplatin were investigated. MTT assay was performed to evaluate the viability of the treated cells. Keratinocytes were used to evaluate the effects of radiation on normal tissues. Irradiation caused a dose-dependent increase in ASMase activity in both SCC9 HPV-negative, and UDSCC2 HPV-positive cells. ASMase activity in UDSCC2 cells was significantly higher than that in SCC9 cells. UDSCC cells were more sensitive to cisplatin treatment than SCC cells, and the dose–response in the activity was observed in long-time treatments when high doses of cisplatin were used. The results of the current study have clearly showed that HPV positivity should be considered as one of the determinative factors which should be considered when tumor treatments are planned. However, further studies are needed to determine the differences in cellular responses and pathways among HPV-negative and HPV-positive cells.


Acid sphingomyelinase HPV Squamous cell carcinoma Cell stress 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors of the manuscript declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Oral and Maxillofacial SurgeryChristian Albrechts UniversityKielGermany
  2. 2.Department of Radiology and NeuroradiologyChristian Albrechts UniversityKielGermany

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