Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) and immunosuppressive biomarker profiles of seven head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) cell lines

Amber M. Bates, Maria Paula Gomez Hernandez, Emily A. Lanzel, Fang Qian, Kim A. Brogden


Background: Biomarkers like programmed death ligand-1 (PDL1) have become a focal point for immunotherapeutic checkpoint inhibition in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). However, it’s only part of the total immunosuppressive biomarker profile of HNSCC cells. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are enzymes that break down the basement membrane allowing cancer cells to metastasize and play an important role in the tumor microenvironment. MMPs can also activate certain cytokines, growth factors, and chemokines post-translationally. The objective of this study was to determine MMP and biomarker profiles of seven different HNSCC cell lines.
Methods: Authenticated cell lines were grown in minimal media at 1×106 viable cells/mL and incubated at 37 ℃. After 24 hrs supernatants were collected, and adhering cells were lysed. Multiplex immunoassays were used to determine MMP1, MMP7, MMP9, IL-6, VEGFA, IL-1α, TNF-α, GM-CSF, IL-1RA, and IL-8 concentrations in supernatants. ELISAs were used to determine PDL1, CD47, FASL, and IDO concentrations in cell lysates. A one-way ANOVA was fit to examine log-transformed concentrations of biomarkers between seven HNSCC cell lines, and pairwise group comparisons were conducted using post-hoc Tukey’s honest significance test (α=0.05).
Results: Significant differences (P<0.05) in MMP and biomarker concentrations were found between the seven HNSCC cell lines. For example, MMP9 was highest in SCC25 and UM-SCC99, MMP7 was highest in SCC25 and UM-SCC19, and MMP1 was highest in SCC25.
Conclusions: These results suggest different patients’ HNSCC cells can express distinct profiles of select biomarkers and MMPs, which could be due to metastatic stage of the cancer, primary tumor site, type of tissue the tumor originated from, or genomic differences between patients. MMP and biomarker expression profiles should be considered when choosing cell lines for future studies. The results support the reason for personalized medicine and the need to further investigate how it can be used to treat HNSCC.