Expression Profile of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR Pathway in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Data from Brazilian Population

PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway in HNSCC
Published:November 01, 2021DOI:



      The PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling pathway is an important regulator of cell proliferation, survival, and motility. The gain or loss of function of proteins related to this pathway results in the neoplastic transformation in several types of cancers. This study aimed to evaluate the expression profile of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and HNSCC cell lines.

      Study Design

      The study involved twenty-six formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue samples from patients with HNSCC. The analysis of immunohistochemical expression of PI3K, AKT, p-mTOR, and PTEN proteins was performed by a quantitative assessment. The in vitro gene and protein expression evaluation was performed by real-time PCR and western blot assay, respectively, in the human cell lines SCC-9 and FaDu.


      High levels of PI3K, AKT, and p-mTOR were found in most HNSCC tumors. Following this result, we observed low amounts or absence of PTEN in most samples. Additionally, the FaDu cells (Pharynx) showed higher AKT expression while lower expression of p-mTOR compared with SCC-9 cells (Oral cavity) which hint a loco-anatomical relevance.


      Overall, this study found increased expression of the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway along with evident PTEN reduction in head and neck cancer.


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