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Impact of Age on Disease Progression and Microenvironment in Oral Cancer

V.K. Vincent-Chong, H. DeJong, L.J. Rich, A. Patti, M. Merzianu, P.A. Hershberger, M Seshadri
Journal of Dental Research2018
Despite the recognized link between aging and cancer, most preclinical studies in experimental tumor models are conducted with 6- to 8-wk-old rodents. The goal of the present study was to examine the impact of age on tumor incidence, growth, and microenvironmental characteristics in mouse models of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Experimental studies were conducted with the 4-nitroquinoline-oxide (4NQO) oral carcinogenesis model and orthotopic FaDu HNSCC xenografts, established in young (7 to 12 wk of age) and old (65 to 70 wk of age) female C57BL/6 mice (n = 44; 4NQO model) and severe combined immunodeficient mice (n = 13; HNSCC xenografts). Noninvasive whole body magnetic resonance imaging revealed increased subcutaneous and visceral fat in aging animals of both strains. On histologic examination, a higher incidence (P < 0.001) of severe dysplasia/invasive squamous cell carcinoma was observed in old mice (92%) as compared with young mice (69%). Old C57BL/6 mice exposed to 4NQO exhibited increased incidence of oral and extraoral (peritoneal masses) neoplasms (42%) versus their young counterparts (P < 0.05). The incidence of extraoral neoplasms was significantly lower (16%) in the younger cohort. Interestingly, no difference in growth rate and oxygen saturation was observed between orthotopic FaDu xenografts established in old and young severe combined immunodeficient mice. Our observations suggest that host age may have an impact on the growth kinetics and progression of HNSCC in the immunocompetent 4NQO model. Further investigation into the impact of aging on tumor response to preventive and therapeutic intervention is warranted.
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