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Silencing of GLUT-1 inhibits sensitization of oral cancer cells to cisplatin during hypoxia


Correspondence: Kazuhiro Ogi, PhD, Department of Oral Surgery, School of Medicine, Sapporo Medical University, Minami-1 Nishi-16, Chuo-ku, Sapporo 060-8543, Japan. Tel: +81 11 611 2111, Fax: +81 11 611 7151, E-mail:



During tumor development, cells are exposed to a hypoxic microenvironment. Tumor hypoxia also has a profound influence on the sensitivity of cancer chemotherapy.

The objective of this study was to investigate the mechanism of cisplatin (CDDP) resistance of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cells under hypoxia by analyzing gene expression profiles to identify key genes and factors involved.


Cell viability was measured following culture of the cells in the presence or absence of CDDP, under normoxic or hypoxic conditions, using a CCK-8 assay. Analysis of the expression of HIF target genes in hypoxia-treated cells was performed using an HIF-regulated cDNA plate array. Changes in the mRNA expression of selected HIF target genes were analyzed using RT-PCR, and changes in the protein levels of these genes were analyzed by Western blotting. Tumor cell apoptosis was assessed by flow cytometry.


The OSCC cell lines responded differently to CDDP under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. The expression of glucose transporter protein-1 (GLUT-1) was up-regulated in human squamous cell carcinoma of mouth (HSC-2) cells under hypoxia. Furthermore, there was little correlation between the cisplatin sensitivity of human squamous cell carcinoma of tongue (SAS) in normoxia and hypoxia. After GLUT-1 knockdown, CDDP treatment resulted in increased rates of apoptosis under hypoxia as compared with normoxia in cell lines HSC-2, Ca9-22, and SAS (= 0.025).


The results of this study suggest that knockdown of GLUT-1 inhibits sensitization of oral squamous cells to CDDP during hypoxia in HSC-2, Ca9-22, and SAS cells.