Anti-cancer activity of a new dihydropyridine derivative, VdiE-2N, in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

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This study aims to examine the effects of a new 1,4-dihydropyridine derivative, VdiE-2N, on cell signaling pathways and mitochondrial events in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cells, and on a mice model of xenograft tumor growth/cell proliferation. Four HNSCC cell lines (HN13, HN12, HN6, and CAL27), HEK293 cells (human embryonic kidney 293 cells), and human oral healthy mucosa fibroblasts (OHMF) were used for in vitro assessment of cell viability (resazurin assay) and invasion capacity (modified Boyden chamber assay), and mitochondrial membrane potential (JC-1 fluorescence assay), morphology (transmission electron microscopy), and number of mitochondria (MitoTracker® imaging). SET and pDRP1 proteins were analyzed by immunofluorescence, and proteins involved in cell death/survival pathways were analyzed by Western blotting. HN12 xenograft tumors were established in the flank of Balb/c nude mice, and their characteristics and sensitivity to VdiE-2N were determined by immunohistochemistry and histology. VdiE-2N decreased cell viability in HNSCC cells (IC50 = 9.56 and 22.45 μM for HN13 and HN12 cells, respectively) more strongly than it decreased cell viability in OHMF and HEK293 cells (IC50 = 32.90 and > 50 μM, respectively). In HN13 cells, VdiE-2N dissipated mitochondrial membrane potential and altered the mitochondria size, shape, and number in a concentration-dependent manner, as well as it induced apoptosis and reduced their invasion capacity. Treatment of mice bearing xenograft tumors with VdiE-2N significantly diminished proliferation of cancer cells. Therefore, VdiE-2N induces HNSCC cell death in vitro through mitochondria-mediated apoptotic pathways and dampens tumor growth in vivo, thus supporting a potential anti-cancer effect.Graphical abstract

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