Rarβ expression in keratinocytes from potentially malignant oral lesions: The functional consequences of re-expression by de-methylating agents

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Loss of RARβ2 expression by promoter methylation is an early event in oral carcinogene-sis. Understanding the mechanisms and consequences of RARβ loss may aid in understanding the disappointing results of retinoid chemoprevention trials. This study aimed to describe the effects of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and the de-methylating agent 5-Aza-2′ deoxycytidine (5-AZA-CdR) on a panel of immortal potentially malignant oral lesion (PMOL) cell cultures. RARβ expression was assessed in PMOL tissues by immunohistochemistry. Cells were treated with ATRA ± 5-AZA-CdR, and the effects on the cell cycle and senescence were assessed. In PMOL tissues, RARβ expression was variable, but lower in biopsies which gave rise to immortal cell cultures. Treatment of iPMOL cells with ATRA resulted in little change in RARβ expression, but the addition of 5-AZA-CdR resulted in significant increases. The effects on the cell cycle and senescence were variable and may be related to 5-AZA-CdR, as this has wider effects on the cell cycle. Overall, the response of iPMOL cells to ATRA and 5-AZA-CdR treatment was variable and is dependent on several factors, including RARβ-promoter methylation. These findings may help to explain the lack of consistent effect of retinoids in PMOLs seen in chemoprevention trials.



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