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30 Years
75 Years
Open (Enrolling)
Laryngeal Cancer, Hypopharyngeal Cancer, Metastasis

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Trial Information

Cancer of the larynx and hypopharynx remains the third most common head and neck malignancy,
constituting about 20% of all tumors. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common
histopathologic type of the laryngeal and hypopharyngeal malignancies, accounting for more
than 90% of cancers occurring in this region. Lymph node metastasis directly affects the
prognosis of patients with laryngeal and hypopharyngeal SCC. The presence of lymph node
metastasis significantly reduces the probability of regional control and survival.
Furthermore, the American Cancer Society shows no trend toward an improvement in 5-year
survival rates between patients diagnosed in 1974 to 1976 and 1989 to 1995.

Tumor metastasis is the hallmark of malignancy, and is probably a result of the interaction
between tumor cells and a supportive microenvironment. Malignant cells that have the
capability to metastasize to a particular organ may have various properties supporting their
tissue invasion or growth such as enhanced adherence to the microvascular cells of the
organ, higher responsiveness to chemotactic signals released from the target organs and
increased response to local soluble or tissue associated growth signals in the target organ.
Though several molecules expressed or produced in cancer cells are considered the
metastatic factors, it remains unknown which factors produced by the lymph node or tissue
affect the metastasis of cancer cells.

Chemokines are a large family of pro-inflammatory polypeptide cytokines, consisting of small
(7–15 kDa), structurally related heparin-binding proteins. They are grouped into CXC
chemokines and CC chemokines, on the basis of the characteristic presence of four conserved
cysteine residues. Chemokines are produced locally in the tissues and act on target cells
through G-protein-coupled receptors, which are characterized structurally by seven
transmembrane spanning domains. Chemokines are involved in the attraction and activation of
mononuclear and polymorphonuclear leukocytes to sites of inflammatory responses, bacterial
or viral infections, allergy, cardiovascular diseases and wound healing. Chemokines are
known to also function as regulatory molecules in the leukocyte maturation, trafficking, and
homing of T and B lymphocytes, in the development of lymphoid tissues, and in dendritic cell
maturation. Other functions of chemokines have been described more recently, particularly
for the CXC chemokines. The role of chemokines in malignant tumors is not clear yet. Some
chemokines may enhance innate or specific host immunity against tumor dissemination. On the
other hand, some may advocate tumor growth and metastasis by promoting tumor cell
proliferation, migration or angiogenesis in tumor tissue. Reports have suggested that
several types of cancer, such as breast, ovary, prostate, kidney, brain, lung, and thyroid,
expressed the chemokine receptor and used the chemokines to metastasize to the target organ
as in the homing of hematopoietic cells.

SDF-1 belongs to the CXC chemokine family and is a ligand for CXCR4. SDF-1 was initially
cloned by Tashiro et al. and later identified as a growth factor for B cell progenitors, a
chemotactic factor for T cells and monocytes, and in B-cell lymphopoiesis and bone marrow
myelopoiesis. Most of the chemokine receptors interact with pleural ligands, and vice
versa, but the SDF-1/CXCR4 receptor ligand system has been shown to involve a one-on-one
interaction. Recently, several studies have been conducted to detect the mRNA expression of
CXCR4 and SDF-1 in solid tumors. The results are not uniform, and the relevance to cancer
progression is not determined. Sehgal et al. concluded that CXCR4 plays an important role
of proliferation and tumorigenic properties of human glioblastoma tumors. Muller et al. have
reported that SDF-1 signaling through CXCR4 interaction appears to determine the directional
migration of breast cancer cells through the basement membrane. Furthermore in vivo, the
interaction between SDF-1 and CXCR4 significantly represses the metastatic potential of
breast cancer cells to lymph node and lung. Barnard and his colleagues showed the contrary
results that CXCR4 mRNA expression was reduced in hepatocellular carcinoma tissue when
compared with noncancerous tissue, but was not changed in colon, esophageal, and gastric
cancer. They also found reduced mRNA expression of SDF-1 in these malignant tissues. Thus,
there is a diversity of views on the role of the SDF-1/CXCR4 receptor ligand system in
malignant tissues. And such studies are limited in laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer.

Metastasis of laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer occurs frequently through the lymphatic
system, and metastasis is a key prognostic factor for the disease. Evaluation of the
relationship between SDF-1/CXCR4 system and metastasis in laryngeal and hypopharyngeal
cancer could help us understand whether this system is important in the metastasis of this

We hypothesized that SDF-1/CXCR4 (ligand/receptor) system plays an important role in
laryngeal and hypopharyngeal cancer metastasis. To test this hypothesis, we will

1. the distribution of CXCR4 protein expression in cancer and lymph node tissues by means
of immunohistochemical analysis of tissue samples obtained from surgical operation

2. the relationship between CXCR4 expression and clinicopathological findings with special
reference to cancer metastasis

3. the expression of SDF-1 and CXCR4 in the cancer cell line cells and tissues

4. the chemotactic activity and the growth-promoting effect of SDF-1 on cancer cell line

5. the role of Src, MAPK, and Akt signal transduction pathway in this response

6. the effect of the blocking agent on this response.

Undoubtedly, the findings of this study will help us understand whether SDF-1/CXCR4 system
could be a focal point of anti-cancer research. If laryngeal and hypopharyngeal SCC that
express high levels of CXCR4 show a consistently higher incidence of lymphatic and distant
metastasis, then blocking SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling may be a novel approach to inhibit
metastasis in these patients. The development of SDF-1/CXCR4 system antagonists will
provide an opportunity to improve the survival rate.

Inclusion Criteria:

- Laryngeal or hypopharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma

Exclusion Criteria:

- Pathology other than SCC

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Allocation: Random Sample, Observational Model: Natural History, Time Perspective: Longitudinal, Time Perspective: Retrospective

Principal Investigator

Ching-Ting Tan, MD, PhD

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

National Taiwan University Hospital


Taiwan: Department of Health

Study ID:




Start Date:

August 2005

Completion Date:

July 2006

Related Keywords:

  • Laryngeal Cancer
  • Hypopharyngeal Cancer
  • Metastasis
  • laryngeal cancer
  • hypopharyngeal cancer
  • CXCR4
  • stromal-cell-derived factor-1(SDF-1)
  • metastasis
  • Laryngeal Neoplasms
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Hypopharyngeal Neoplasms