Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Measuring the response of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma to irradiation in a microfluidic model allowing customized therapy

Cheah, Ramsah; Srivastava, Rishi; Stafford, Nicholas D.; Beavis, Andrew W.; Green, Victoria; Greenman, John


Ramsah Cheah

Rishi Srivastava

Nicholas D. Stafford

Andrew W. Beavis


Radiotherapy is the standard treatment for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), however, radioresistance remains a major clinical problem despite significant improvements in treatment protocols. Therapeutic outcome could potentially be improved if a patient's tumour response to irradiation could be predicted ex vivo before clinical application. The present study employed a bespoke microfluidic device to maintain HNSCC tissue whilst subjecting it to external beam irradiation and measured the responses using a panel of cell death and proliferation markers. HNSCC biopsies from five newly-presenting patients [2 lymph node (LN); 3 primary tumour (PT)] were divided into parallel microfluidic devices and replicates of each tumour were subjected to single-dose irradiation (0, 5, 10, 15 and 20 Gy). Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release was measured and tissue sections were stained for cytokeratin (CK), cleaved-CK18 (cCK18), phosphorylated-H2AX (λH2AX) and Ki.67 by immunohistochemistry. In addition, fragmented DNA was detected using terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL). Compared with non.irradiated controls, higher irradiation doses resulted in elevated CK18-labelling index in two lymph nodes [15 Gy; 34.8% on LN1 and 31.7% on LN2 (p=0.006)] and a single laryngeal primary tumour (20 Gy; 31.5%; p=0.014). Significantly higher levels of DNA fragmentation were also detected in both lymph node samples and one primary tumour but at varying doses of irradiation, i.e., LN1 (20 Gy; 27.6%; p=0.047), LN2 (15 Gy; 15.3%; p=0.038) and PT3 (10 Gy; 35.2%; p=0.01). The λH2AX expression was raised but not significantly in the majority of samples. The percentage of Ki.67 positive nuclei reduced dose-dependently following irradiation. In contrast no significant difference in LDH release was observed between irradiated groups and controls. There is clear interand intra-patient variability in response to irradiation when measuring a variety of parameters, which offers the potential for the approach to provide clinically valuable information.


Cheah, R., Srivastava, R., Stafford, N. D., Beavis, A. W., Green, V., & Greenman, J. (2017). Measuring the response of human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma to irradiation in a microfluidic model allowing customized therapy. International Journal of Oncology, 51(4), 1227-1238.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 31, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 5, 2017
Publication Date Oct 1, 2017
Deposit Date Sep 7, 2017
Publicly Available Date Mar 14, 2018
Journal International journal of oncology
Print ISSN 1791-2423
Electronic ISSN 1791-2423
Publisher Spandidos Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 51
Issue 4
Pages 1227-1238
Keywords Microfluidic; Irradiation; Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; Cytokeratin 18
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Copy of article published in International journal of oncology, 2017, v.51 issue 4.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations