Original article


, 6:15

First online:

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Quercetin suppresses cellular migration and invasion in human head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC)

  • Chien-Yi ChanAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition, China Medical University Email author 
  • , Chia-Hsien LienAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition, China Medical University
  • , Ming-Fen LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition and Health Sciences, Chang Jung Christian University
  • , Chun-Yin HuangAffiliated withDepartment of Nutrition, China Medical University


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) with aberrant epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling is often associated with a poor prognosis and a low survival rate. Hence, efficient inhibition of the EGFR signaling-mediated malignancy would improve survival rate. In a previous study, we demonstrated that quercetin appears to be a potent anti-tumorigenic agent through its inhibition of the EGFR/Akt pathway in oral cancer, but its anti-metastatic potential in HNSCC remains unclear [1]. Here, we have hypothesized that quercetin might be effective in metastatic inhibition in EGFR-overexpressing HNSCC cells. Quercetin treatment with 10 μM (half concentration of IC50) suppressed cell migration and invasion in EGFR-overexpressing HSC-3 and FaDu HNSCC cells. Quercetin also inhibited the colony growth of HSC-3 cells embedded in a Matrigel matrix. Among matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), the secreted gelatinases MMP-2 and MMP-9 are responsible for the degradation of gelatin in the extracellular matrix and type IV collagen in the basement membrane; and this degradation event is crucial for the migration from the origin and the invasion into the bone in HNSCC. Quercetin (10 μM) treatment also suppressed the expression and proteolytic activity of MMP-2 and MMP-9. Taken together, our data indicate that quercetin is an effective anti-cancer agent against MMP-2- and MMP-9-mediated metastasis in EGFR-overexpressing HNSCC.


HNSCC Quercetin