Oxytocin inhibits head and neck squamous cell carcinoma cell migration by early growth response-1 upregulation

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The effect of oxytocin (OXT) on cancer invasion is controversial. Few studies have examined the effect of early growth response-1 (EGR1) on the invasion of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Here, we evaluated how EGR1 affects HNSCC cell migration through the molecular mechanism of OXT in exerting anti-invasion activity. Matrigel invasion and wound-healing assays were used to measure the in-vitro cell migration. The molecular mechanism of OXT was assessed by knockdown or overexpression of EGR1 in HNSCC cells. Three-dimensional (3-D) spheroids formation, followed by the image analysis for quantification was performed. OXT at 500 nmol/l increased mRNA and protein expression of E-cadherin without cytotoxicity. OXT upregulated mRNA and protein expression of EGR1 in 6 h. p53, phosphatase and tensin, and p21 expression was increased in an EGR1-dependent manner with OXT treatment. In addition, OXT significantly downregulated 3-D spheroids’ formation according to spheroids’ number and size. Our data showed that OXT downregulated HNSCC cell migration by EGR1 upregulation. OXT inhibited spheroids’ formation of HNSCC cells under 3-D culture conditions.

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