The opioid growth factor (OGF)–OGF receptor (OGFr) axis is a constitutively expressed biologic pathway regulating cell proliferation of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). This study investigated modulation of the OGF–OGFr system by (1) exogenous OGF, (2) upregulation of OGFr using imiquimod, or (3) intermittent opioid receptor blockade with a low dose of naltrexone on progression of established SCCHN.
Nude mice with visible human SCCHN SCC-1 tumors received (1) OGF or low-dose naltrexone either 1, 3, or 7 times/week or (2) imiquimod 1 or 3 times/week. Tumor growth and DNA synthesis were monitored.
OGF and low-dose naltrexone increased the latency from visible to measurable tumors up to 1.6-fold. OGF, low-dose naltrexone, and imiquimod treatment markedly reduced tumor volume and weight, and decreased DNA synthesis in tumors.
Modulation of the native OGF–OGFr regulatory network in SCCHN represents a novel nontoxic and highly efficacious approach for treatment of SCCHN. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2012