Caveolin-1-negative head and neck squamous cell carcinoma primary tumors display increased epithelial to mesenchymal transition and prometastatic properties
Distant metastases arise in 20-30% of patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC) in the 2 years following treatment. Therapeutic options are limited and the outcome of the patients is poor. The identification of predictive biomarkers of patient at risk for distant metastasis and therapies are urgently needed. We previously identified a clinical subgroup, called “R1” characterized by high propensity for rapid distant metastasis. Here, we showed that “R1” patients do not or at very low level express caveolin-1 (Cav1). Low or no expression of Cav1 is of bad prognosis. Disappearance of Cav1 enables cells to undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT is associated with enhanced migration and invasion. Our study uncovered a new target, α5β1 integrin. Targeting α5β1 integrins might not only prevent metastasis of HNSCC but also delay the development of the primary tumor by reducing tumor cell viability. Cav1 detection might be taken into consideration in the future in the clinic not only to identify patients at high risk of metastasis but also to select patient who might benefit from an anti-integrin therapy.