Oral Cancer Cells Release Vesicles that Cause Pain

Zinaida A. Dubeykovskaya, Nguyen Huu Tu, Paulina D.Ramírez Garcia, Brian L. Schmidt, Donna G. Albertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oral cancer pain is attributed to the release from cancers of mediators that sensitize and activate sensory neurons. Intraplantar injection of conditioned media (CM) from human tongue cancer cell line HSC-3 or OSC-20 evokes nociceptive behavior. By contrast, CM from noncancer cell lines, DOK, and HaCaT are non-nociceptive. Pain mediators are carried by extracellular vesicles (EVs) released from cancer cells. Depletion of EVs from cancer cell line CM reverses mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia. CM from non-nociceptive cell lines become nociceptive when reconstituted with HSC-3 EVs. Two miRNAs (hsa-miR-21-5p and hsa-miR-221-3p) are identified that are present in increased abundance in EVs from HSC-3 and OSC-20 CM compared to HaCaT CM. The miRNA target genes suggest potential involvement in oral cancer pain of the toll like receptor 7 (TLR7) and 8 (TLR8) pathways, as well as signaling through interleukin 6 cytokine family signal transducer receptor (gp130, encoded by IL6ST) and colony stimulating factor receptor (G-CSFR, encoded by CSF3R), Janus kinase and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (JAK/STAT3). These studies confirm the recent discovery of the role of cancer EVs in pain and add to the repertoire of algesic and analgesic cancer pain mediators and pathways that contribute to oral cancer pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvanced Biology
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • extracellular vesicles
  • miR-21
  • miR-221
  • miRNA
  • oral cancer
  • oral cancer induced pain
  • pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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