Hypoxia alters cathepsin B / inhibitor profiles in oral carcinoma cell lines

Nalinie S. Wickramasinghe, Kasturi Banerjee, Nagathihalli S. Nagaraj, Nadarajah Vigneswaran, Wolfgang Zacharias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: The tumor microenvironment is believed to contribute to the malignant properties of tumor cells in heterogeneous tumor tissues. We investigated the impact of hypoxia (1% oxygen) on the expression of cathepsin B and its natural inhibitors cystatin B and C. Materials and Methods: Patient-matched oral carcinoma cell lines from primary tumor and lymph node metastasis were used to study the effects of hypoxia on proliferation, protein expression, and proteolytic and inhibitor activities. Results: Hypoxic growth led to elevated cathepsin B expression and activity, and this effect was greater in metastatic than in primary tumor cells. Also, hypoxia led to down-regulation of the inhibitors cystatin C and B, resulting in increased residual activity of cathepsin B. Conclusion: These data suggest that the invasive and/or metastatic potential of cells may be enhanced under hypoxia by increasing cathepsin-mediated proteolysis. The results provide strong evidence for the involvement of cathepsin B and its cystatin inhibitors in hypoxia-enhanced tumor progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2841-2850
Number of pages10
JournalAnticancer research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Cathepsin
  • Cystatin
  • Hypoxia
  • Oral carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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