PloS one

Chloroquine-enhanced efficacy of cisplatin in the treatment of hypopharyngeal carcinoma in xenograft mice.

PMID 25923669


Hypopharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (HSCC) has the worst prognosis among head and neck cancers. Cisplatin (DDP)-based chemotherapy is an important part of multimodal treatments. However, resistance to DDP severely impairs the effectiveness of chemotherapy for HSCC. Chloroquine (CQ) has been reported to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in liver, pancreas, breast, prostate and colon tumors, but it is unclear whether CQ could increase the efficacy of DDP for treating HSCC. We inoculated BALB/c nude mice with a subcutaneous injection of human hypopharyngeal FaDu cells to generate our animal model. Mice were randomly divided into 4 groups and treated with vehicle control, CQ (60 mg/kg/day), DDP (5 mg/kg/6 days), or a combination of DDP and CQ. Tumor growth and survival of the mice were monitored. We found that CQ inhibited autophagy and increased DDP-induced apoptosis in the xenograft mouse model. CQ enhanced the efficacy of DDP, resulting in decreased tumor growth and prolonged survival of the mice. To test whether blocking autophagy enhanced the efficacy of DDP, FaDu cells were infected with lentiviral shRNA to Beclin-1 and inoculated into the flanks of nude mice. Inhibition of autophagy markedly enhanced the DDP-induced antitumor effect. Our study suggests that the addition of CQ to DDP-based chemotherapy could be a potential therapeutic strategy for treating HSCC, and the inhibition of autophagy may contribute to chemotherapy sensitization in HSCC.