Date of Degree
Access restricted until 01/31/2020
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Free Radical and Radiation Biology
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Spitz, Douglas R
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Despite the incorporation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor cetuximab into the clinical management of recurrent and metastatic (R/M) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), only a small subset of patients responds to cetuximab, despite EGFR overexpression in virtually all of their tumors. At this time, there is a lack of validated predictive biomarkers to predict which patients will respond to cetuximab. Our previous work suggests that cetuximab activates the interleukin-1 (IL-1) pathway via tumor release of IL-1 alpha (IL-1α), although the implications of activating this pathway are unclear. The IL-1 pathway plays a central role in immune response and displays both pro-tumor and anti-tumor activities. IL-1 may promote tumor growth by upregulating the secretion of pro-inflammatory mediators involved in angiogenesis and metastasis. On the other hand, IL-1 signaling may promote antitumor immunity via enhancement of natural killer (NK)-cell mediated antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and T cell activity, which are important mechanisms of action of cetuximab.
The goal of this work is to determine how modulation of the IL-1 pathway affects HNSCC tumor response to cetuximab and if IL-1 may serve as a predictive biomarker for patient response to cetuximab. Blockade of IL-1 signaling did not enhance the anti-tumor efficacy of cetuximab, while IL-1α overexpression and treatment with recombinant IL-1α and IL-1α nanoparticles increased HNSCC tumor response to cetuximab in immunodeficient and immunocompetent HNSCC mouse models. Mechanistically, these results appear to be due to activation of an anti-tumor NK and T cell-mediated immune response. Additionally, we found that both nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase (NOX) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) activity may be involved in the efficacy of IL-1-induced ADCC against cetuximab-coated HNSCC cells. Altogether, these results suggest that IL-1 signaling is necessary for HNSCC tumor response to cetuximab. Furthermore, we have shown that pre-treatment serum and tumor IL-1 ligands can predict progression-free survival of HNSCC patients treated with standard-of-care cetuximab and chemotherapy, cetuximab combined with other targeted therapies, and cetuximab monotherapy. Overall, we propose that IL-1α warrants further study as a novel therapeutic to enhance response to cetuximab and as a predictive biomarker for HNSCC response to cetuximab.
cetuximab, HNSCC, Interleukin-1
Includes bibliographical references (pages 98-118).
Copyright © 2018 Madelyn Espinosa-Cotton
Espinosa-Cotton, Madelyn. "Interleukin-1 signaling contributes to the anti-tumor efficacy of Cetuximab in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma." PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) thesis, University of Iowa, 2018.