STAT3 blockade enhances the efficacy of conventional chemotherapeutic agents by eradicating head neck stemloid cancer cell.

PMID 26556875


Signaling transducer and activator 3 (STAT3) and cancer stem cells (CSCs) have garnered huge attention as a therapeutic focus, based on evidence that they may represent an etiologic root of tumor initiation and radio-chemoresistance. Here, we investigated the high phosphorylation status of STAT3 (p-STAT3) and its correlation with self-renewal markers in head neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Over-expression of p-STAT3 was found to have increased in post chemotherapy HNSCC tissue. We showed that blockade of p-STAT3 eliminated both bulk tumor and side population (SP) cells with characteristics of CSCs in vitro. Inhibition of p-STAT3 using small molecule S3I-201 significantly delayed tumorigenesis of spontaneous HNSCC in mice. Combining blockade of p-STAT3 with cytotoxic drugs cisplatin, docetaxel, 5-fluorouracil (TPF) enhanced the antitumor effect in vitro and in vivo with decreased tumor sphere formation and SP cells. Taken together, our results advocate blockade of p-STAT3 in combination with conventional chemotherapeutic drugs enhance efficacy by improving CSCs eradication in HNSCC.