Effects of S–adenosyl–L–methionine on the invasion and migration of head and neck squamous cancer cells and analysis of the underlying mechanisms

Laura Mosca, Michele Minopoli, Martina Pagano, Francesca Vitiello, Maria Vincenza Carriero, Giovanna Cacciapuoti, Marina Porcelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet) is the principal methyl donor in transmethylation reactions fundamental to sustaining epigenetic modifications. Over the past decade, AdoMet has been extensively investigated for its anti-proliferative, pro-apoptotic and anti-metastatic roles in several types of human cancer. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the sixth most common type of cancer worldwide, and is an aggressive type of cancer that is associated with a high recurrence rate, metastasis and poor treatment outcomes. The present study demonstrates, for the first time, to the best of our knowledge, that AdoMet induces cell cycle arrest and inhibits the migratory and invasive ability of two different HNSCC cell lines, oral Cal-33 and laryngeal JHU-SCC-011 cells. In both cell lines, AdoMet attenuated cell cycle progression, decreased the protein level of several cyclins and downregulated the expression of p21 cell cycle inhibitor. Moreover, AdoMet was able to inhibit Cal-33 and JHU-SCC-011 cell migration in a dose-dependent manner after 24 and 48 h, respectively, and also induced a significant reduction in the cell invasive ability, as demonstrated by Matrigel invasion assay monitored by the xCELLigence RTCA system. Western blot analysis of several migration and invasion markers confirmed the inhibitory effects exerted by AdoMet on these processes and highlighted AKT, β-catenin and small mothers against decapentaplegic (SMAD) as the main signaling pathways modulated by AdoMet. The present study also demonstrated that the combination of AdoMet and cisplatin synergistically inhibited HNSCC cell migration. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the physiological compound, AdoMet, affects the motility and extracellular matrix invasive capability in HNSCC. Thus, AdoMet may prove to be a good candidate for future drug development against metastatic cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1212-1224
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Oncology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cell cycle arrest
  • Cisplatin
  • Drug combination
  • Human head and neck cancer cells
  • Migration and invasion processes
  • S-adenosyl-L-methionine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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