Publications by authors named "Andrew G Sikora"

121 Publications

Prospective Clinical Investigation of the Efficacy of Combination Radiation Therapy With Immune Checkpoint Inhibition.

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2021 Aug 16. Epub 2021 Aug 16.

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Department of Radiation Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. Electronic address:

: Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) lead to durable responses in a subset of patients with cancer, but most patients do not respond to ICI, prompting interest in combining immunotherapy with other therapeutic regimens. Preclinical evidence supports the potential for therapeutic synergy between immunotherapy and radiation therapy through modulation of the tumor microenvironment and antitumor immune responses. Local therapy also has the potential to overcome localized sites of relative immune suppression and resistance. Prospective clinical trials have been initiated to test these hypotheses in the clinic as well as to investigate the toxicities and adverse events associated with combination immunotherapy and radiation therapy. In this review, we discuss the emerging results from prospective clinical trials of combination immunotherapy and radiation therapy, the safety and efficacy of their combination, concordance with preclinical and retrospective data, and some of the remaining open questions to be addressed by future clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijrobp.2021.08.009DOI Listing
August 2021

Esomeprazole enhances the effect of ionizing radiation to improve tumor control.

Oncotarget 2021 Jul 6;12(14):1339-1353. Epub 2021 Jul 6.

Department of Radiation Oncology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

The resistance of cancer cells to radiation-based treatment is a major clinical challenge confounding standard of care in cancer. This problem is particularly notable in many solid tumors where cancer cells are only partially responsive to radiation therapy. Combination of radiation with radiosensitizers is able to enhance tumor cell killing. However, currently available radiosensitizers are associated with significant normal tissue toxicity. Accordingly, there is an unmet need to develop safer and more effective radiosensitizers to improve tumor control. Here, we evaluated the radiosensitizing effect of the FDA-approved drug esomeprazole in normal and radioresistant human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cells , and in a mouse model of HNSCC. For the studies, we used cancer cell colony formation (clonogenicity) assay to compare cancer cell growth in the absence or presence of esomeprazole. To determine mechanism(s) of action, we assessed cell proliferation and profiled cell cycle regulatory proteins. In addition, we performed reverse phase protein array (RPPA) study to understand the global effect of esomeprazole on over 200 cancer-related proteins. For the study, we engrafted HNSCC in a mouse model and compared tumor growth in animals treated with radiation, esomeprazole, and combination of radiation with esomeprazole. We found that esomeprazole inhibits tumor growth and dose-dependently enhances the cell killing effect of ionizing radiation in wildtype and p53-mutant radioresistant cancer cells. Mechanistic studies demonstrate that esomeprazole arrests cancer cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle through upregulation of p21 protein and inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinases (Cdks) type 1 (Cdk1) and type 2 (Cdk2). data showed greater tumor control in animals treated with combination of radiation and esomeprazole compared to either treatment alone, and that this was associated with inhibition of cell proliferation . In addition, combination of esomeprazole with radiation significantly impaired repair following radiation-induced DNA damage. Our studies indicate that esomeprazole sensitizes cancer cells to ionizing radiation, and is associated with upregulation of p21 to arrest cells in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Our findings have significant therapeutic implications for the repurposing of esomeprazole as a radiosensitizer in HNSCC and other solid tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.28008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8274720PMC
July 2021

Metformin generates profound alterations in systemic and tumor immunity with associated antitumor effects.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 07;9(7)

Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA

Background: Metformin is a commonly used antidiabetic medication which has demonstrated promise as an anticancer agent alone and in combination with conventional treatment regimens. There is increasing evidence that metformin can also generate immunomodulatory effects in solid tumors and is currently being investigated as an adjunct to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). We hypothesized that metformin would generate a shift in immunity unfavorable to tumor growth and tested this hypothesis in a preclinical model of head and neck cancer.

Methods: Using a syngeneic mouse model of human papillomavirus-associated head and neck cancer (mEER/MTEC), we tested the impact of metformin on systemic and local immunity and tumor growth velocity. We compared the effects of acute and chronic treatment regimens on immunocyte presence and activation using a combination of flow cytometry and targeted transcriptomic analysis.

Results: Acute metformin exposure generated measurable shifts in systemic myeloid and T-cell populations in non-tumor-bearing mice and decreased myeloid derived suppressor cell (MDSC) levels in tumor draining lymph nodes of tumor-bearing mice. Although metformin decreased regulatory T-cell (T-reg) and MDSC levels and increased CD8+ levels in murine tumors when combined with ICIs, acute metformin exposure was insufficient to generate substantial antitumor activity. Conversely, long-term metformin treatment significantly reduced tumor growth velocity, increased the CD8+/T-reg ratio, increased tumor infiltrating lymphocyte levels and upregulated component genes of the previously validated T-cell inflamed expression profile.

Conclusions: Metformin generates complex systemic and local immune effects which vary as a function of treatment duration. Combinatorial strategies with ICIs must take into account both the complexity and variability of these effects in order to generate maximal antitumor activity in future clinical trials.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jitc-2021-002773DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8261884PMC
July 2021

Local Anti-PD-1 Delivery Prevents Progression of Premalignant Lesions in a 4NQO-Oral Carcinogenesis Mouse Model.

Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2021 Aug 21;14(8):767-778. Epub 2021 May 21.

Department of Head and Neck Surgery, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Although the principle of systemic treatment to prevent the progression of oral premalignant lesions (OPL) has been demonstrated, there remains a lack of consensus about an optimal approach that balances clinical efficacy with toxicity concerns. Recent advances in cancer therapy using approaches targeting the tumor immune microenvironment (TIME) including immune-checkpoint inhibitors indicate that these agents have significant clinically activity against different types of cancers, including oral cancer, and therefore they may provide an effective oral cancer prevention strategy for patients with OPLs. Our past work showed that systemic delivery of a monoclonal antibody to the programmed death receptor 1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint can inhibit the progression of OPLs to oral cancer in a syngeneic murine oral carcinogenesis model. Here we report a novel approach of local delivery of a PD-1 immune-checkpoint inhibitor loaded using a hydrogel, which significantly reduces the progression of OPLs to carcinomas. In addition, we detected a significant infiltration of regulatory T cells associated with oral lesions with p53 mutation, and a severe loss of expression of STING, which correlated with a decreased infiltration of dendritic cells in the oral lesions. However, a single local dose of PD-1 inhibitor was found to restore stimulator of interferon response cGAMP interactor 1 (STING) and CD11c expression and increase the infiltration of CD8 T cells into the TIME irrespective of the p53 mutational status. Overall, we provide evidence for the potential clinical value of local delivery of biomaterials loaded with anti-PD-1 antibodies to prevent malignant progression of OPLs. PREVENTION RELEVANCE: Oral cancer is an aggressive disease, with an overall survival rate of 50%. Preinvasive histologic abnormalities such as tongue dysplasia represent an early stage of oral cancer; however, there are no treatments to prevent oral carcinoma progression. Here, we combined biomaterials loaded with an immunotherapeutic agent preventing oral cancer progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-20-0607DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8338806PMC
August 2021

De-Escalated Adjuvant Therapy After Transoral Robotic Surgery for Human Papillomavirus-Related Oropharyngeal Carcinoma: The Sinai Robotic Surgery (SIRS) Trial.

Oncologist 2021 06 18;26(6):504-513. Epub 2021 Mar 18.

Department of Otolaryngology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA.

Background: Treatment of human papillomavirus-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (HPVOPC) results in unprecedented high survival rates but possibly unnecessary toxicity. We hypothesized that upfront surgery and neck dissection followed by reduced-dose adjuvant therapy for early and intermediate HPVOPC would ultimately result in equivalent progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival while reducing toxicity.

Methods: This study was a nonrandomized phase II trial for early-stage HPVOPC treated with transoral robotic surgery (TORS) followed by reduced-dose radiotherapy. Patients with previously untreated p16-positive HPVOPC and <20 pack years' smoking history were enrolled. After robotic surgery, patients were assigned to group 1 (no poor risk features; surveillance), group 2 (intermediate pathologic risk factors [perineural invasion, lymphovascular invasion]; 50-Gy radiotherapy), or group 3 (poor prognostic pathologic factors [extranodal extension [ENE], more than three positive lymph nodes and positive margin]; concurrent 56-Gy chemoradiotherapy with weekly cisplatin).

Results: Fifty-four patients were evaluable; there were 25 in group 1, 15 in group 2, and 14 in group 3. Median follow-up was 43.9 months (9.6-75.8). Disease-specific survival was 98.1%, and PFS was 90.7%. PFS probability via Kaplan-Meier was 91.3% for group 1, 86.7% for group 2, and 93.3% for group 3. There were five locoregional failures (LRFs), including one distant metastasis and one contralateral second primary. Average time to LRF was 18.9 months (9.6-59.0); four LRFs were successfully salvaged, and the patients remain disease free (11.0-42.7 months); one subject remains alive with disease.

Conclusion: The results indicate that upfront surgery with neck dissection with reduced-dose radiation for T1-2, N1 stage (by the eighth edition American Joint Committee on Cancer staging manual) HPVOPC results in favorable survival with excellent function in this population. These results support radiation dose reduction after TORS as a de-escalation strategy in HPVOPC.

Implications For Practice: Transoral robotic surgery can provide a safe platform for de-escalation in carefully selected patients with early-stage human papillomavirus-related oropharyngeal cancer. In this clinical trial, disease-specific survival was 100%, over 90% of the cohort had a reduction of therapy from standard of care with excellent functional results, and the five patients with observed locoregional failures were successfully salvaged.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/onco.13742DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8176976PMC
June 2021

Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 expression in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: Variation within and across primary tumor sites, and implications for antigen-specific immunotherapy.

Head Neck 2021 07 4;43(7):1983-1994. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Department of Head and Neck Surgery, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

Background: The purpose of this study is to describe human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) overexpression in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and re-evaluate its potential as a target for HER2-directed immunotherapies.

Methods: A retrospective cohort of patients with HNSCC receiving curative treatment was identified, and HER2 expression evaluated in archival tissue by immunohistochemistry and correlated with clinicopathological characteristics. HER2 expression data were also determined for HNSCC patients in The Cancer Genome Atlas.

Results: Nineteen percent of HNSCC and 39% of oropharyngeal HNSCC (OPSCC) were HER2 positive. HER2 expression positively correlated with nodal metastasis (p = 0.035). Patients with HER2-positive tumors had decreased overall survival (p = 0.012), including within the human papilloma virus-positive OPSCC subgroup (p = 0.007).

Conclusions: A substantial fraction of HNSCC overexpresses HER2 protein, suggesting it may be a suitable target for antigen-directed immunotherapy. HER2 expression and its correlation with survival vary across HNSCC subsites, making it unsuitable as a prognostic marker.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hed.26662DOI Listing
July 2021

Computerized tumor multinucleation index (MuNI) is prognostic in p16+ oropharyngeal carcinoma.

J Clin Invest 2021 04;131(8)

Department of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

BACKGROUNDPatients with p16+ oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) are potentially cured with definitive treatment. However, there are currently no reliable biomarkers of treatment failure for p16+ OPSCC. Pathologist-based visual assessment of tumor cell multinucleation (MN) has been shown to be independently prognostic of disease-free survival (DFS) in p16+ OPSCC. However, its quantification is time intensive, subjective, and at risk of interobserver variability.METHODSWe present a deep-learning-based metric, the multinucleation index (MuNI), for prognostication in p16+ OPSCC. This approach quantifies tumor MN from digitally scanned H&E-stained slides. Representative H&E-stained whole-slide images from 1094 patients with previously untreated p16+ OPSCC were acquired from 6 institutions for optimization and validation of the MuNI.RESULTSThe MuNI was prognostic for DFS, overall survival (OS), or distant metastasis-free survival (DMFS) in p16+ OPSCC, with HRs of 1.78 (95% CI: 1.37-2.30), 1.94 (1.44-2.60), and 1.88 (1.43-2.47), respectively, independent of age, smoking status, treatment type, or tumor and lymph node (T/N) categories in multivariable analyses. The MuNI was also prognostic for DFS, OS, and DMFS in patients with stage I and stage III OPSCC, separately.CONCLUSIONMuNI holds promise as a low-cost, tissue-nondestructive, H&E stain-based digital biomarker test for counseling, treatment, and surveillance of patients with p16+ OPSCC. These data support further confirmation of the MuNI in prospective trials.FUNDINGNational Cancer Institute (NCI), NIH; National Institute for Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, NIH; National Center for Research Resources, NIH; VA Merit Review Award from the US Department of VA Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Service; US Department of Defense (DOD) Breast Cancer Research Program Breakthrough Level 1 Award; DOD Prostate Cancer Idea Development Award; DOD Lung Cancer Investigator-Initiated Translational Research Award; DOD Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program; Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation Fund; Wallace H. Coulter Foundation Program in the Department of Biomedical Engineering; Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, Case Western Reserve University; NCI Cancer Center Support Grant, NIH; Career Development Award from the US Department of VA Clinical Sciences Research and Development Program; Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center Support Grant, NIH; and Computational Genomic Epidemiology of Cancer Program, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH, the US Department of VA, the DOD, or the US Government.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI145488DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8075166PMC
April 2021

Association of Social Determinants of Health with Time to Diagnosis and Treatment Outcomes in Idiopathic Subglottic Stenosis.

Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol 2021 Oct 25;130(10):1116-1124. Epub 2021 Feb 25.

Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

Objectives: To examine whether social determinants of health (SDH) factors are associated with time to diagnosis, treatment selection, and time to recurrent surgical intervention in idiopathic subglottic stenosis (iSGS) patients.

Methods: Adult patients with diagnosed iSGS were recruited prospectively (2015-2017) via clinical providers as part of the North American Airway Collaborative (NoAAC) and via an online iSGS support community on Facebook. Patient-specific SDH factors included highest educational attainment (self-reported), median household income (matched from home zip code via U.S. Census data), and number of close friends (self-reported) as a measure of social support. Main outcomes of interest were time to disease diagnosis (years from symptom onset), treatment selection (endoscopic dilation [ED] vs cricotracheal resection [CTR] vs endoscopic resection with adjuvant medical therapy [ERMT]), and time to recurrent surgical intervention (number of days from initial surgical procedure) as a surrogate for disease recurrence.

Results: The total 810 participants were 98.5% female, 97.2% Caucasian, and had a median age of 50 years (IQR, 43-58). The cohort had a median household income of $62 307 (IQR, $50 345-$79 773), a median of 7 close friends (IQR, 4-10), and 64.7% of patients completed college or graduate school. Education, income, and number of friends were not associated with time to diagnosis via multivariable linear regression modeling. Univariable multinominal logistic regression demonstrated an association between education and income for selecting ED versus ERMT, but no associations were noted for CTR. No associations were noted for time to recurrent surgical procedure via Kaplan Meier modeling and Cox proportional hazards regression.

Conclusions: Patient education, income, and social support were not associated with time to diagnosis or time to disease recurrence. This suggests additional patient, procedure, or disease-specific factors contribute to the observed variations in iSGS surgical outcomes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0003489421995283DOI Listing
October 2021

Biomaterial-Facilitated Immunotherapy for Established Oral Cancers.

ACS Biomater Sci Eng 2021 02 20;7(2):415-421. Epub 2021 Jan 20.

Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Dentistry, Houston, Texas 77054, United States.

We evaluated a peptide-based immunotherapy termed SynerGel: an injectable, biomaterial-based platform for intratumoral drug delivery. A drug-mimicking peptide hydrogel named L-NIL-MDP was loaded with an antitumor cyclic dinucleotide (CDN) immunotherapy agonist. The biomaterial combines inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) inhibition with controlled delivery of CDNs, demonstrating between 4- and 20-fold slower drug release than commercially available hydrogels. SynerGel allowed for immune-mediated elimination of established treatment-resistant oral tumors in a murine model, with a median survival of 67.5 days compared with 44 days in no-treatment control. This report details findings for a promising therapy showing improved efficacy over previous hydrogel systems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsbiomaterials.0c01575DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8325389PMC
February 2021

Proteogenomic insights into the biology and treatment of HPV-negative head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.

Cancer Cell 2021 03 7;39(3):361-379.e16. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

Tisch Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA; Department of Population Health Science and Policy, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY 10029, USA.

We present a proteogenomic study of 108 human papilloma virus (HPV)-negative head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs). Proteomic analysis systematically catalogs HNSCC-associated proteins and phosphosites, prioritizes copy number drivers, and highlights an oncogenic role for RNA processing genes. Proteomic investigation of mutual exclusivity between FAT1 truncating mutations and 11q13.3 amplifications reveals dysregulated actin dynamics as a common functional consequence. Phosphoproteomics characterizes two modes of EGFR activation, suggesting a new strategy to stratify HNSCCs based on EGFR ligand abundance for effective treatment with inhibitory EGFR monoclonal antibodies. Widespread deletion of immune modulatory genes accounts for low immune infiltration in immune-cold tumors, whereas concordant upregulation of multiple immune checkpoint proteins may underlie resistance to anti-programmed cell death protein 1 monotherapy in immune-hot tumors. Multi-omic analysis identifies three molecular subtypes with high potential for treatment with CDK inhibitors, anti-EGFR antibody therapy, and immunotherapy, respectively. Altogether, proteogenomics provides a systematic framework to inform HNSCC biology and treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ccell.2020.12.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7946781PMC
March 2021

Drug-Mimicking Nanofibrous Peptide Hydrogel for Inhibition of Inducible Nitric Oxide Synthase.

ACS Biomater Sci Eng 2019 Dec 13;5(12):6755-6765. Epub 2019 Nov 13.

Department of Chemistry and Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005, United States.

In this work, we develop a drug-mimicking nanofibrous peptide hydrogel that shows long-term bioactivity comparable to a small-molecule inhibitor of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). The iNOS inhibitor, -(1-iminoethyl)-l-lysine (l-NIL), is a positively charged amino acid whose structure could be readily integrated into the framework of a positively charged multidomain peptide (MDP) through the modification of lysine side chains. This new l-NIL-MDP maintains the self-assembling properties of the base peptide, forming -sheet nanofibers, which entangle into a thixotropic hydrogel. The l-NIL-MDP hydrogel supports cell growth in vitro and allows syringe-directed delivery that persists in a targeted location in vivo for several weeks. Multiple characterization assays demonstrate the bioactivity of the l-NIL-MDP hydrogel to be comparable to the l-NIL small molecule. This includes iNOS inhibition of macrophages in vitro, reduced nitrotyrosine immunostaining in murine subcutaneous histology, and reduced serum levels of vascular endothelial growth factor in vivo. This study expands the toolbox of available peptide hydrogel scaffold designs that can modify biological activity without the need for any additional small-molecule drugs, proteins, or cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsbiomaterials.9b01447DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7725238PMC
December 2019

A steroid receptor coactivator stimulator (MCB-613) attenuates adverse remodeling after myocardial infarction.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2020 12 23;117(49):31353-31364. Epub 2020 Nov 23.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030;

Progressive remodeling of the heart, resulting in cardiomyocyte (CM) loss and increased inflammation, fibrosis, and a progressive decrease in cardiac function, are hallmarks of myocardial infarction (MI)-induced heart failure. We show that MCB-613, a potent small molecule stimulator of steroid receptor coactivators (SRCs) attenuates pathological remodeling post-MI. MCB-613 decreases infarct size, apoptosis, hypertrophy, and fibrosis while maintaining significant cardiac function. MCB-613, when given within hours post MI, induces lasting protection from adverse remodeling concomitant with: 1) inhibition of macrophage inflammatory signaling and interleukin 1 (IL-1) signaling, which attenuates the acute inflammatory response, 2) attenuation of fibroblast differentiation, and 3) promotion of Tsc22d3-expressing macrophages-all of which may limit inflammatory damage. SRC stimulation with MCB-613 (and derivatives) is a potential therapeutic approach for inhibiting cardiac dysfunction after MI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2011614117DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7733826PMC
December 2020

Caspase-8 loss radiosensitizes head and neck squamous cell carcinoma to SMAC mimetic-induced necroptosis.

JCI Insight 2020 12 3;5(23). Epub 2020 Dec 3.

Department of Head and Neck Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA.

Caspase-8 (CASP8) is one of the most frequently mutated genes in head and neck squamous carcinomas (HNSCCs), and CASP8 mutations are associated with poor survival. The distribution of these mutations in HNSCCs suggests that they are likely to be inactivating. Inhibition of CASP8 has been reported to sensitize cancer cells to necroptosis, a regulated cell death mechanism. Here, we show that knockdown of CASP8 renders HNSCCs susceptible to necroptosis by a second mitochondria-derived activator of caspase (SMAC) mimetic, birinapant, in combination with pan-caspase inhibitors Z-VAD-FMK or emricasan and radiation. In a syngeneic mouse model of oral cancer, birinapant, particularly when combined with radiation, delayed tumor growth and enhanced survival under CASP8 loss. Exploration of molecular underpinnings of necroptosis sensitivity confirmed that the level of functional receptor-interacting serine/threonine protein kinase 3 (RIP3) determines susceptibility to this mode of death. Although an in vitro screen revealed that low RIP3 levels rendered many HNSCC cell lines resistant to necroptosis, patient tumors maintained RIP3 expression and should therefore remain sensitive. Collectively, these results suggest that targeting the necroptosis pathway with SMAC mimetics, especially in combination with radiation, may be relevant therapeutically in HNSCC with compromised CASP8 status, provided that RIP3 function is maintained.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.139837DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7714407PMC
December 2020

Incidence and survival for oropharynx and non-oropharynx head and neck cancers among veterans living with HIV.

Cancer Med 2020 12 23;9(24):9326-9335. Epub 2020 Oct 23.

VA Health Services Research Center of Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety (IQuESt, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Background: People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH) have an excess risk for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) compared to the general U.S. population, but little is known about HIV-specific risk factors associated with the incidence and outcomes HNSCC. We aim to identify clinical and HIV-specific risk factors associated with oropharyngeal and non-oropharyngeal HNSCC incidence and outcomes separately.

Methods: We constructed a retrospective cohort study of 45,052 PLWH aged 18 or above from the national Veteran Affairs (VA) Corporate Data from 1999 to 2015. We extracted demographic data and risk factor information, including history of alcohol abuse, smoking, CD4 count (cells/μl), and percent of follow-up time with undetectable HIV viral load as time-updated variables. We calculated the age-standardized incidence rates of oropharyngeal and non-oropharyngeal HNSCC and estimated adjusted hazard ratios (HR). We also examined overall survival using Kaplan-Meier curves and adjusted HR.

Results: The standardized incidence rate of oropharyngeal and non-oropharyngeal HNSCC in this veteran cohort of PLWH is 23.0 (95% confidence intervals (CIs): 17.1-28.9) and 55.4 (95% CI: 46.5-64.3) per 100,000 person-years, respectively. Nadir CD4 count ≤200 was associated with an increased risk of non-oropharyngeal HNSCC (HR: 1.78; 95% CI: 1.31-2.30 vs >200). Five-year overall survival of OPSCC (37.0%) was significantly lower than non-oropharyngeal HNSCC (49.1%).

Conclusions: PLWH who receive care in the VA had higher age-adjusted HNSCC incidence rates than reported in the general population, suggesting that HIV and immunosuppression play a role. Additional studies should be conducted to study the interaction between HPV and HIV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.3539DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7774719PMC
December 2020

The role of human papillomavirus in the pathogenesis of sinonasal inverted papilloma: a narrative review.

Rev Med Virol 2021 05 13;31(3):e2178. Epub 2020 Oct 13.

Department of Dermatology, The University of Texas McGovern Medical School, Houston, TX, USA.

Sinonasal inverted papillomas (IPs) are rare tumours arising from the nasal epithelial mucosa. Most lesions are benign, but a subset of IPs progress to dysplasia and squamous cell carcinoma. Although the epidemiology and clinical features of IPs are well known, the pathogenesis is still unclear. Given the established role of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) in the formation of other mucosal tumours including cervical and oropharyngeal cancer, some have suggested the virus may play a role in IP development. However, the association between HPV and IPs has not yet been proven, and the variable detection of HPV DNA in IPs has cast uncertainty on whether the virus plays a major role in pathogenesis. In this review, we summarize early clinical reports and synthesize recent studies that may elucidate the association between HPV and IPs. We also discuss the role HPV may have in the progression of benign IP to dysplasia and malignancy, as well as potential pathological mechanisms. We hope that synthesizing the initial and recent studies on this topic will not only lead to a better understanding of research in the role of HPV in IP development, but also help guide and contextualize future studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rmv.2178DOI Listing
May 2021

Tobacco exposure as a major modifier of oncologic outcomes in human papillomavirus (HPV) associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.

BMC Cancer 2020 Sep 23;20(1):912. Epub 2020 Sep 23.

ENT Section, Operative Care Line, Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Houston, TX, USA.

Background: The incidence of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) in the US is rapidly increasing, driven largely by the epidemic of human papillomavirus (HPV)-mediated OPSCC. Although survival for patients with HPV mediated OPSCC (HPV+ OPSCC) is generally better than that of patients with non-virally mediated OPSCC, this effect is not uniform. We hypothesized that tobacco exposure remains a critical modifier of survival for HPV+ OPSCC patients.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of 611 OPSCC patients with concordant p16 and HPV testing treated at a single institute (2002-2013). Survival analysis was performed using Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox regression. Recursive partitioning analysis (RPA) was used to define tobacco exposure associated with survival (p < 0.05).

Results: Tobacco exposure impacted overall survival (OS) for HPV+ patients on univariate and multivariate analysis (p = 0.002, p = 0.003 respectively). RPA identified 30 pack-years (PY) as a threshold at which survival became significantly worse in HPV+ patients. OS and disease-free survival (DFS) for HPV+ > 30 PY patients didn't differ significantly from HPV- patients (p = 0.72, p = 0.27, respectively). HPV+ > 30 PY patients had substantially lower 5-year OS when compared to their ≤30 PYs counterparts: 78.4% vs 91.6%; p = 0.03, 76% vs 88.3%; p = 0.07, and 52.3% vs 74%; p = 0.05, for stages I, II, and III (AJCC 8th Edition Manual), respectively.

Conclusions: Tobacco exposure can eliminate the survival benefit associated with HPV+ status in OPSCC patients. Until this effect can be clearly quantified using prospective datasets, de-escalation of treatment for HPV + OPSCC smokers should be avoided.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12885-020-07427-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7513300PMC
September 2020

Correction: Epigenetic loss of AOX1 expression via EZH2 leads to metabolic deregulations and promotes bladder cancer progression.

Oncogene 2020 Oct;39(40):6387-6392

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

After publication of this Article, the Authors noticed errors in some of the Figures. In Figures 2e, 2f-g, 4a, 4j, 5a and 6b, unmatched β-actin was inadvertently used as loading control for the immunoblots. These have been corrected using repeat data from a similar set of samples and the revised Figures containing matched β-actin and their respective quantification data are included below. In Figure 7a, the same image was inadvertently used to represent tumors 3 and 5 in the control group. This error has been corrected using original images of tumors 3 and 5 in the control group. Additional corrections have been made in the Article and Figure legends to enhance the clarity of the description. NAD was replaced by NADP. NAD/NADP was replaced by NADP/NADPH. The description of the antibody source and dilution for the antigens PFKFB4 (Abcam, 1:1000), G6PD, and HK1 (Cell Signaling, 1:1,000) have been included in the Methods section for Western Blot. The legend for Figure 4e and 4j has been updated. The HTML and PDF versions of this Article have been corrected. The scientific conclusions of this paper have not been affected.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-020-1283-7DOI Listing
October 2020

Neovascularized implantable cell homing encapsulation platform with tunable local immunosuppressant delivery for allogeneic cell transplantation.

Biomaterials 2020 10 25;257:120232. Epub 2020 Jul 25.

Department of Nanomedicine, Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, United States; Department of Surgery, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, United States; Department of Radiation Oncology, Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, United States. Electronic address:

Cell encapsulation is an attractive transplantation strategy to treat endocrine disorders. Transplanted cells offer a dynamic and stimulus-responsive system that secretes therapeutics based on patient need. Despite significant advancements, a challenge in allogeneic cell encapsulation is maintaining sufficient oxygen and nutrient exchange, while providing protection from the host immune system. To this end, we developed a subcutaneously implantable dual-reservoir encapsulation system integrating in situ prevascularization and local immunosuppressant delivery, termed NICHE. NICHE structure is 3D-printed in biocompatible polyamide 2200 and comprises of independent cell and drug reservoirs separated by a nanoporous membrane for sustained local release of immunosuppressant. Here we present the development and characterization of NICHE, as well as efficacy validation for allogeneic cell transplantation in an immunocompetent rat model. We established biocompatibility and mechanical stability of NICHE. Further, NICHE vascularization was achieved with the aid of mesenchymal stem cells. Our study demonstrated sustained local elution of immunosuppressant (CTLA4Ig) into the cell reservoir protected transcutaneously-transplanted allogeneic Leydig cells from host immune destruction during a 31-day study, and reduced systemic drug exposure by 12-fold. In summary, NICHE is the first encapsulation platform achieving both in situ vascularization and immunosuppressant delivery, presenting a viable strategy for allogeneic cell transplantation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biomaterials.2020.120232DOI Listing
October 2020

The Proximal Airway Is a Reservoir for Adaptive Immunologic Memory in Idiopathic Subglottic Stenosis.

Laryngoscope 2021 03 30;131(3):610-617. Epub 2020 Jun 30.

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.

Objectives/hypothesis: Characterization of the localized adaptive immune response in the airway scar of patients with idiopathic subglottic stenosis (iSGS).

Study Design: Basic Science.

Methods: Utilizing 36 patients with subglottic stenosis (25 idiopathic subglottic stenosis [iSGS], 10 iatrogenic post-intubation stenosis [iLTS], and one granulomatosis with polyangiitis [GPA]) we applied immunohistochemical and immunologic techniques coupled with RNA sequencing.

Results: iSGS, iLTS, and GPA demonstrate a significant immune infiltrate in the subglottic scar consisting of adaptive cell subsets (T cells along with dendritic cells). Interrogation of T cell subtypes showed significantly more CD69 CD103 CD8 tissue resident memory T cells (T ) in the iSGS airway scar than iLTS specimens (iSGS vs. iLTS; 50% vs. 28%, P = .0065). Additionally, subglottic CD8 clones possessed T-cell receptor (TCR) sequences with known antigen specificity for viral and intracellular pathogens.

Conclusions: The human subglottis is significantly enriched for CD8 tissue resident memory T cells in iSGS, which possess TCR sequences proven to recognize viral and intracellular pathogens. These results inform our understanding of iSGS, provide a direction for future discovery, and demonstrate immunologic function in the human proximal airway. Laryngoscope, 131:610-617, 2021.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/lary.28840DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7951501PMC
March 2021

In silico analysis reveals EP300 as a panCancer inhibitor of anti-tumor immune response via metabolic modulation.

Sci Rep 2020 06 10;10(1):9389. Epub 2020 Jun 10.

Pathology of the Research Center Borstel, Leibniz Lung Center, Borstel, Germany.

The tumor immune microenvironment (TIME) of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) and other solid malignancies is a key determinant of therapy response and prognosis. Among other factors, it is shaped by the tumor mutational burden and defects in DNA repair enzymes. Based on the TCGA database we aimed to define specific, altered genes associated with different TIME types, which might represent new predictive markers or targets for immuno-therapeutic approaches. The HNSCC cohort of the TCGA database was used to define 3 TIME types (immune-activated, immune-suppressed, immune-absent) according to expression of immune-related genes. Mutation frequencies were correlated to the 3 TIME types. Overall survival was best in the immune-activated group. 9 genes were significantly differentially mutated in the 3 TIME types with strongest differences for TP53 and the histone-acetyltransferase EP300. Mutations in EP300 correlated with an immune-activated TIME. In panCancer analyses anti-tumor immune activity was increased in EP300 mutated esophageal, stomach and prostate cancers. Downregulation of EP300 gene expression was associated with higher anti-tumor immunity in most solid malignancies. Since EP300 is a promoter of glycolysis, which negatively affects anti-tumor immune response, we analyzed the association of EP300 with tumor metabolism. PanCancer tumor metabolism was strongly shifted towards oxidative phosphorylation in EP300 downregulated tumors. In silico analyses of of publicly available in vitro data showed a decrease of glycolysis-associated genes after treatment with the EP300 inhibitor C646. Our study reveals associations of specific gene alterations with different TIME types. In detail, we defined EP300 as a panCancer inhibitor of the TIME most likely via metabolic modulation. In this context EP300 represents a promising predictive biomarker and an immuno-therapeutic target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-66329-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7287052PMC
June 2020

High expression of oxidative phosphorylation genes predicts improved survival in squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck and lung.

Sci Rep 2020 04 14;10(1):6380. Epub 2020 Apr 14.

Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, United States.

Mitochondrial activity is a critical component of tumor metabolism, with profound implications for tumorigenesis and treatment response. We analyzed clinical, genomic and expression data from patients with oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma (OCSCC) in order to map metabologenomic events which may correlate with clinical outcomes and identified nuclear genes involved in oxidative phosphorylation and glycolysis (OXPHOG) as a critical predictor of patient survival. This correlation was validated in a secondary unrelated set of lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC) and was shown to be driven largely by over-expression of nuclear encoded components of the mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) coordinated with an increase in tumor mitochondrial DNA copy number and a strong threshold effect on patient survival. OCSCC and LUSC patients with a favorable OXPHOG signature demonstrated a dramatic (>2fold) improvement in survival compared to their counterparts. Differential OXPHOG expression correlated with varying tumor immune infiltrates suggesting that the interaction between tumor metabolic activity and tumor associated immunocytes may be a critical driver of improved clinical outcomes in this patient subset. These data provide strong support for studies aimed at mechanistically characterizing the interaction between tumor mitochondrial activity and the tumor immune microenvironment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-63448-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7156383PMC
April 2020

Impact of Neoadjuvant Durvalumab with or without Tremelimumab on CD8 Tumor Lymphocyte Density, Safety, and Efficacy in Patients with Oropharynx Cancer: CIAO Trial Results.

Clin Cancer Res 2020 07 8;26(13):3211-3219. Epub 2020 Apr 8.

Department of Head and Neck Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

Purpose: In oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPC), high CD8 tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (CD8TIL) density confers improved prognosis. We compared neoadjuvant durvalumab (PD-L1 inhibitor) with durvalumab + tremelimumab (CTLA-4 inhibitor) in terms of impact on CD8TIL density, safety, and efficacy in patients with OPC.

Patients And Methods: Patients with newly diagnosed stage II-IVA OPC or locoregionally recurrent OPC amenable to resection were included. Patients were randomized to two cycles of durvalumab or durvalumab + tremelimumab before surgery. The primary endpoint was change between baseline and resection specimen in CD8TIL density between arms. Secondary endpoints included safety, response rate per RECIST, major pathologic response (MPR; ≤10% viable tumor cells) rate, and patient-reported outcomes.

Results: Of 28 eligible patients (14/arm), 20 (71%) had newly diagnosed OPC, and 24 (86%) were p16-positive. The posttreatment to pretreatment median CD8TIL density ratio was 1.31 for durvalumab and 1.15 for combination treatment ( = 0.97; 95% CI: -1.07-2.28). In each group, 6 patients (43%, 95% CI: 17.66-71.14) had a response. Eight patients (29%) had a MPR at the primary tumor and/or nodal metastases. Neither baseline CD8TIL density nor PD-L1 expression level correlated with overall response, but a trend toward greater CD8TIL change in patients with a MPR was seen ( = 0.059; 95% CI: -0.33-3.46). Four patients (14%) had grade ≥3 adverse events. At median follow-up time of 15.79 months, all patients were alive, and one had an additional recurrence.

Conclusions: Durvalumab + tremelimumab did not increase CD8TIL density more than durvalumab alone did. The observed safety and activity support further investigation of neoadjuvant checkpoint inhibitor for OPC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-19-3977DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8362306PMC
July 2020

A Hidden Epidemic of "Intermediate Risk" Oropharynx Cancer.

Laryngoscope Investig Otolaryngol 2019 Dec 17;4(6):617-623. Epub 2019 Oct 17.

Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Baylor College of Medicine Houston Texas U.S.A.

Objectives: Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) incidence is rapidly increasing in the United States and around the world, driven in large part by infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV associated OPSCC (HPV+OPSCC) has been shown to have improved response to treatment relative to tobacco-associated OPSCC. However, improvement in patient survival has not been uniform. Subsets of OPSCC patients in the US and around the world continue to have poor oncologic outcomes. Although the drivers of this phenomenon remain unclear, there is increasing evidence that tobacco exposure plays an important role in modulating HPV+OPSCC clinical outcomes.

Methods: We conducted a review of the literature.

Results: We discuss the potential biological and epidemiological interplay between tobacco and HPV exposure in the context of OPSCC. Multiple retrospective and prospective cohorts show that HPV+OPSCC patients with a history of tobacco exposure have response to treatment and clinical outcomes distinct from HPV+OPSCC non-smokers which poses clinical and scientific challenges to be addressed over the next decade.

Conclusions: The interaction between tobacco exposure and HPV infection in the context of OPSCC has significant implications for both standard of care treatment regimens and development of novel therapeutic approaches, in particular those which incorporate immunomodulatory agents.

Level Of Evidence: 5.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/lio2.316DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6929570PMC
December 2019

Comparative Treatment Outcomes for Patients With Idiopathic Subglottic Stenosis.

JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2020 01;146(1):20-29

Vanderbilt Center for Quantitative Sciences, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Nashville, Tennessee.

Importance: Surgical treatment comparisons in rare diseases are difficult secondary to the geographic distribution of patients. Fortunately, emerging technologies offer promise to reduce these barriers for research.

Objective: To prospectively compare the outcomes of the 3 most common surgical approaches for idiopathic subglottic stenosis (iSGS), a rare airway disease.

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this international, prospective, 3-year multicenter cohort study, 810 patients with untreated, newly diagnosed, or previously treated iSGS were enrolled after undergoing a surgical procedure (endoscopic dilation [ED], endoscopic resection with adjuvant medical therapy [ERMT], or cricotracheal resection [CTR]). Patients were recruited from clinician practices in the North American Airway Collaborative and an online iSGS community on Facebook.

Main Outcomes And Measures: The primary end point was days from initial surgical procedure to recurrent surgical procedure. Secondary end points included quality of life using the Clinical COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) Questionnaire (CCQ), Voice Handicap Index-10 (VHI-10), Eating Assessment Test-10 (EAT-10), the 12-Item Short-Form Version 2 (SF-12v2), and postoperative complications.

Results: Of 810 patients in this cohort, 798 (98.5%) were female and 787 (97.2%) were white, with a median age of 50 years (interquartile range, 43-58 years). Index surgical procedures were ED (n = 603; 74.4%), ERMT (n = 121; 14.9%), and CTR (n = 86; 10.6%). Overall, 185 patients (22.8%) had a recurrent surgical procedure during the 3-year study, but recurrence differed by modality (CTR, 1 patient [1.2%]; ERMT, 15 [12.4%]; and ED, 169 [28.0%]). Weighted, propensity score-matched, Cox proportional hazards regression models showed ED was inferior to ERMT (hazard ratio [HR], 3.16; 95% CI, 1.8-5.5). Among successfully treated patients without recurrence, those treated with CTR had the best CCQ (0.75 points) and SF-12v2 (54 points) scores and worst VHI-10 score (13 points) 360 days after enrollment as well as the greatest perioperative risk.

Conclusions And Relevance: In this cohort study of 810 patients with iSGS, endoscopic dilation, the most popular surgical approach for iSGS, was associated with a higher recurrence rate compared with other procedures. Cricotracheal resection offered the most durable results but showed the greatest perioperative risk and the worst long-term voice outcomes. Endoscopic resection with medical therapy was associated with better disease control compared with ED and had minimal association with vocal function. These results may be used to inform individual patient treatment decision-making.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaoto.2019.3022DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6824232PMC
January 2020

Topical Esomeprazole Mitigates Radiation-Induced Dermal Inflammation and Fibrosis.

Radiat Res 2019 11 15;192(5):473-482. Epub 2019 Aug 15.

Departments of Radiation Oncology.

Radiation therapy is a mainstream strategy in the treatment of several cancer types that are surgically unresectable. Unfortunately, cancer patients often suffer from unintended consequences of radiotherapy, including the development of skin inflammation (dermatitis), which may progress to fibrosis. These morbid complications often require interruption of radiotherapy and threaten the relapse of underlying cancer. Current treatment options for radiation dermatitis are suboptimal and compel the need to develop safer, more effective therapies. In this study, we assessed the biophysical properties of topically-formulated esomeprazole (here referred to as dermaprazole) and performed proof-of-concept studies to evaluate its efficacy and . We found that dermaprazole induced nuclear translocation of erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) and significantly upregulated heme oxygenase 1 (HO1) gene and protein expression in a 3D human skin model. Our animal study demonstrated that dermaprazole improved macroscopic appearance of the irradiated skin and accelerated healing of the wounds. Histopathology data corroborated the photographic evidence and confirmed that both prophylactically and therapeutically administered dermaprazole conferred potent anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic effects. Gene expression data showed that dermaprazole downregulated several pro-oxidant, pro-inflammatory and profibrotic genes. In conclusion, topical formulation of the FDA-approved drug esomeprazole is highly effective in attenuating dermal inflammation and fibrosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1667/RR15398.1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6876297PMC
November 2019

Immune microenvironment modulation unmasks therapeutic benefit of radiotherapy and checkpoint inhibition.

J Immunother Cancer 2019 08 13;7(1):216. Epub 2019 Aug 13.

Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Background: Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) for solid tumors, including those targeting programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) and cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4), have shown impressive clinical efficacy, however, most patients do not achieve durable responses. One major therapeutic obstacle is the immunosuppressive tumor immune microenvironment (TIME). Thus, we hypothesized that a strategy combining tumor-directed radiation with TIME immunomodulation could improve ICI response rates in established solid tumors.

Methods: Using a syngeneic mouse model of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated head and neck cancer, mEER, we developed a maximally effective regimen combining PD-1 and CTLA-4 inhibition, tumor-directed radiation, and two existing immunomodulatory drugs: cyclophosphamide (CTX) and a small-molecule inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) inhibitor, L-n6-(1-iminoethyl)-lysine (L-NIL). We compared the effects of the various combinations of this regimen on tumor growth, overall survival, establishment of immunologic memory, and immunologic changes with flow cytometry and quantitative multiplex immunofluorescence.

Results: We found PD-1 and CTLA-4 blockade, and radiotherapy alone or in combination, incapable of clearing established tumors or reversing the unfavorable balance of effector to suppressor cells in the TIME. However, modulation of the TIME with cyclophosphamide (CTX) and L-NIL in combination with dual checkpoint inhibition and radiation led to rejection of over 70% of established mEER tumors and doubled median survival in the B16 melanoma model. Anti-tumor activity was CD8 T cell-dependent and led to development of immunologic memory against tumor-associated HPV antigens. Immune profiling revealed that CTX/L-NIL induced remodeling of myeloid cell populations in the TIME and tumor-draining lymph node and drove subsequent activation and intratumoral infiltration of CD8 effector T cells.

Conclusions: Overall, this study demonstrates that modulation of the immunosuppressive TIME is required to unlock the benefits of ICIs and radiotherapy to induce immunologic rejection of treatment-refractory established solid tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40425-019-0698-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6693252PMC
August 2019

Epigenetic loss of AOX1 expression via EZH2 leads to metabolic deregulations and promotes bladder cancer progression.

Oncogene 2020 10 5;39(40):6265-6285. Epub 2019 Aug 5.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Advanced Bladder Cancer (BLCA) remains a clinical challenge that lacks effective therapeutic measures. Here, we show that distinct, stage-wise metabolic alterations in BLCA are associated with the loss of function of aldehyde oxidase (AOX1). AOX1 associated metabolites have a high predictive value for advanced BLCA and our findings demonstrate that AOX1 is epigenetically silenced during BLCA progression by the methyltransferase activity of EZH2. Knockdown (KD) of AOX1 in normal bladder epithelial cells re-wires the tryptophan-kynurenine pathway resulting in elevated NADP levels which may increase metabolic flux through the pentose phosphate (PPP) pathway, enabling increased nucleotide synthesis, and promoting cell invasion. Inhibition of NADP synthesis rescues the metabolic effects of AOX1 KD. Ectopic AOX1 expression decreases NADP production, PPP flux and nucleotide synthesis, while decreasing invasion in cell line models and suppressing growth in tumor xenografts. Further gain and loss of AOX1 confirm the EZH2-dependent activation, metabolic deregulation, and tumor growth in BLCA. Our findings highlight the therapeutic potential of AOX1 and provide a basis for the development of prognostic markers for advanced BLCA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-019-0902-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8058741PMC
October 2020

UDP-glucose 6-dehydrogenase regulates hyaluronic acid production and promotes breast cancer progression.

Oncogene 2020 04 15;39(15):3089-3101. Epub 2019 Jul 15.

Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, 77030, USA.

An improved understanding of the biochemical alterations that accompany tumor progression and metastasis is necessary to inform the next generation of diagnostic tools and targeted therapies. Metabolic reprogramming is known to occur during the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process that promotes metastasis. Here, we identify metabolic enzymes involved in extracellular matrix remodeling that are upregulated during EMT and are highly expressed in patients with aggressive mesenchymal-like breast cancer. Activation of EMT significantly increases production of hyaluronic acid, which is enabled by the reprogramming of glucose metabolism. Using genetic and pharmacological approaches, we show that depletion of the hyaluronic acid precursor UDP-glucuronic acid is sufficient to inhibit several mesenchymal-like properties including cellular invasion and colony formation in vitro, as well as tumor growth and metastasis in vivo. We found that depletion of UDP-glucuronic acid altered the expression of PPAR-gamma target genes and increased PPAR-gamma DNA-binding activity. Taken together, our findings indicate that the disruption of EMT-induced metabolic reprogramming affects hyaluronic acid production, as well as associated extracellular matrix remodeling and represents pharmacologically actionable target for the inhibition of aggressive mesenchymal-like breast cancer progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-019-0885-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6960374PMC
April 2020

The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer consensus statement on immunotherapy for the treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC).

J Immunother Cancer 2019 07 15;7(1):184. Epub 2019 Jul 15.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Head and neck cancers, including those of the lip and oral cavity, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, oropharynx, larynx and nasopharynx represent nearly 700,000 new cases and 380,000 deaths worldwide per annum, and account for over 10,000 annual deaths in the United States alone. Improvement in outcomes are needed for patients with recurrent and or metastatic squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC). In 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the first immunotherapeutic approvals - the anti-PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitors nivolumab and pembrolizumab - for the treatment of patients with recurrent squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC) that is refractory to platinum-based regimens. The European Commission followed in 2017 with approval of nivolumab for treatment of the same patient population, and shortly thereafter with approval of pembrolizumab monotherapy for the treatment of recurrent or metastatic HNSCC in adults whose tumors express PD-L1 with a ≥ 50% tumor proportion score and have progressed on or after platinum-containing chemotherapy. Then in 2019, the FDA granted approval for PD-1 inhibition as first-line treatment for patients with metastatic or unresectable, recurrent HNSCC, approving pembrolizumab in combination with platinum and fluorouracil for all patients with HNSCC and pembrolizumab as a single agent for patients with HNSCC whose tumors express a PD-L1 combined positive score ≥ 1. These approvals marked the first new therapies for these patients since 2006, as well as the first immunotherapeutic approvals in this disease. In light of the introduction of these novel therapies for the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer, The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) formed an expert committee tasked with generating consensus recommendations for emerging immunotherapies, including appropriate patient selection, therapy sequence, response monitoring, adverse event management, and biomarker testing. These consensus guidelines serve as a foundation to assist clinicians' understanding of the role of immunotherapies in this disease setting, and to standardize utilization across the field for patient benefit. Due to country-specific variances in approvals, availability and regulations regarding the discussed agents, this panel focused solely on FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of patients in the U.S.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40425-019-0662-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6632213PMC
July 2019
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