Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Head & Neck Oncology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research

Effect of human beta-defensin-3 on head and neck cancer cell migration using micro-fabricated cell islands

Kevin Wang1, Joanne H Wang2, Harihara Baskaran3, Russell Wang4* and Rick Jurevic5

Author Affiliations

1 College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45267, USA

2 Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, RI, 02912, USA

3 Department of Chemical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University School of engineering, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

4 Department of Comprehensive Care, Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

5 Department of Biological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Head & Neck Oncology 2012, 4:41  doi:10.1186/1758-3284-4-41

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Based on the information available to BioMed Central, this article was apparently handled and peer reviewed only by Waseem Jerjes, an Editor-in-Chief of the journal at that time. There were no other peer reviewers and the manuscript was accepted without revision.

Published: 28 June 2012



To examine the effect of the natural antimicrobial peptide human β-defensin-3 (hBD-3), on the migration of a head and neck cancer cell line in vitro using microfabrication and soft-lithographic techniques.


TR146 cancer cells were seeded in Petri dishes with microfabricated wells for cell migration assays. Total 54 cell islands were used of various shape and size and experimental media type. Cell migration assays were analyzed in six group media: Dulbecco’s modified medium (DMEM); DMEM with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF); Conditioned media of human embryonic kidney cells (HEK 239) expressing hBD-3 via transfected cloned pcDNA3 as CM/hBD-3; CM/hBD-3 + VEGF; conditioned medium from non-transfected HEK 239 (not expressing hBD-3) as control (CM); and the last group was CM + VEGF. Cell islands were circular or square and varied in size (0.25 mm2, 0.125 mm2, and 0.0625 mm2). Cell islands were imaged at t = 0 h, 3 h, 6 h, and 24 h.


The results show cancer cell islands that originally were smaller had higher migration indices. There was no difference of MIs between circular and square cell islands. MIs at the end point were significantly different among the groups except between CM and CM-hBD-3+ VEGF.


VEGF enhanced cancer cell migration. The combination of DMEM and VEGF showed a synergistic effect on this phenomenon of cancer cell migration. Conditioned medium with hBD-3 suppressed cancer cell migration. hBD-3 suppressed VEGF enhancement of TR146 cancer cell migration.

Head and neck cancer; Cancer cell migration; Human beta defensin; Migration index; Micro-fabricated cell islands