PPARγ-Mediated p21 Induction in Aerodigestive Preneoplastic Cell Lines

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Introduction: Oral leukoplakia is defined as a mucous membrane disorder characterized by white patches that cannot be scraped off. Leukoplakia is the most frequent, potentially premalignant oral mucosa disorder and a good candidate for chemopreventive therapies. Pioglitazone activates peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor gamma (PPARγ), which forms a complex with nuclear cofactors and regulates gene expression of a variety of cell-cycle proteins and is currently being tested preclinically and clinically in aerodigestive cancer prevention. Methods: In the present study, we hypothesized that pioglitazone would decrease proliferation of human leukoplakia cells (MSK Leuk1) and transformed bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) through regulatory changes of G1 checkpoint protein regulators, p21 and cyclin-D1. MSK Leuk1 and BEAS-2B cells were treated with pioglitazone and assayed for cell proliferation and p21 transcriptional activity. Results: We discovered pioglitazone significantly inhibited cell proliferation in a dose-dependent fashion. We also observed p21 protein induction after treatment with pioglitazone, which was preceded by measurable increases in p21 mRNA induction. Conclusions: We conclude the PPARγ activator, pioglitazone, can activate p21, which is associated with decreased proliferation in 2 aerodigestive preneoplastic cell lines. In addition, the p21 gene may be a potential hypothesis-driven biomarker in translational studies of pioglitazone as a chemoprevention agent for aerodigestive cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-686
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the Lions Multiple District 5M Hearing Foundation of Minnesota.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • oral leukoplakia
  • p21
  • peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor gamma (PPARγ)
  • pioglitazone
  • prevention


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