Delayed DNA double-strand break repair following platin-based chemotherapy predicts treatment response in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma.
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The aim of this study was to investigate if defective repair of DNA double-strand break (DSB) in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) could be used as an early predictor of treatment response.Tumour biopsy 24-36 h following induction chemotherapy (IC) and pre-treatment biopsies were stained for RAD51 and geminin (S-phase marker) for immunofluorescence in patients with HNSCC. The difference between RAD51 score (percentage of geminin-positive cells that were also positive for RAD51) was calculated for the two specimens. Tumours with a percentage difference of⩽10% were deemed to have repaired IC-induced DSBs, and were classified as 'RAD51 negative'. Response at 3 months post treatment and human papilloma virus (HPV) status were assessed.Thirteen pairs of samples were available for analyses. Three samples were classified as RAD51 negative and 10 as RAD51 positive at 24 h post IC. All of the three patients with tumours classified as RAD51 negative had partial response or progressive disease and the 10 patients with tumours deemed RAD51 positive had a complete response. 100% of the HPV-positive tumours were RAD51 positive and had a complete response.We have demonstrated that impaired DSB DNA repair may underlie enhanced treatment sensitivity of HPV-positive HNSCC and repair capacity following platinum-induced DNA damage predicts response in HNSCC. This has potential as a biomarker for patient selection in trials of DNA damage response pathway modulation.
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British journal of cancer, 2016, 115 (7), pp. 825 - 830