The present study deals with the evaluation of the efficacy of oxaliplatin and paclitaxel combination as a potential strategy in controlling HNSCC cell proliferation and the assessment of correlation between occurrence of apoptosis and changes in expression of survivin (IAP). The panel cell lines included two HNSCC cell lines (Cal27 and NT8e) and one normal cell line (293) with differential level of survivin expression in accordance with chemosensitivity. The cytotoxicity and effect of drugs on apoptosis was determined, separately and in combination. Combined treatment of cells with paclitaxel and oxaliplatin resulted in significantly higher cytotoxicity as compared to individual single drug treatment. Cytotoxicity was prominent in paclitaxel to oxaliplatin (pacl-oxal) sequence treatment with an approximate two-fold increase in apoptosis as compared to oxaliplatin to paclitaxel (oxal-pacl) sequence treatment. Paclitaxel treatment also caused increased survivin expression showing reduced apoptosis at low concentration. Oxaliplatin, when combined with paclitaxel, decreased the survivin level with increased cell death. Inhibition of survivin by a small interfering RNA (siRNA) method also increased the sensitivity of the cancer cell lines to paclitaxel whereas over-expression of survivin in the transfected 293-cell line provided resistance. In conclusion, the interaction between drugs was synergistic and schedule-dependent. Survivin played a critical role in paclitaxel resistance through the suppression of apoptosis, and a significant induction of apoptosis was observed when oxaliplatin was combined with paclitaxel at least in part by the down-regulation of survivin.
Keywords: Survivin, oxaliplatin, paclitaxel, chemotherapy, HNSCC, apoptosis.
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