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Differential biomarker expression in head and neck cancer correlates with anatomical localization

, : Differential biomarker expression in head and neck cancer correlates with anatomical localization. Pathology Oncology Research 17(3): 721-727

We tested the expression of known (p16ink4, Ki67, p53, EGFR) and a new immunohistochemical (collagen XVII/BP18) biomarker in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) of diverse anatomical localization. Tissue microarrays (TMA) of 124 SCC were created, immunostained, and analyzed following whole slide digitalization using the Pannoramic Scan and the TMA Module software (3DHISTECH Kft, Budapest, Hungary). Statistical analysis of scoring results was carried out using Pearson s chi-square test. We observed the significant elevation of p16ink4 and Ki67 expression in supraglottic, tonsillar and tonsillo-lingual SCCs compared to those affecting the oral cavity, oropharynx without tonsils, larynx without supraglottis and the hypopharynx. This differential antigen expression may reflect the diverse route of embryologic differentiation followed by the affected regions except those of the tonsils and the supraglottis which show similar antigenic pattern but diverse developmental path. All the other biomarkers tested including p53, collagen XVII and EGFR were detected in the majority of cancers including high grade cases, but did not reveal any significant regional difference. Based on our results oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas may not be regarded as one entity. Concerning the oral cavity and the oropharynx, cancers affecting the tonsils (palatine and lingual) show significantly elevated p16ink4 and Ki67 expression; so as the cancers of the supraglottis compared to the rest of larynx. Consequently, tonsillar and supraglottic cancers show similar biomarker profiles. Correlation of differential biomarker expression with diverse biological behavior in head and neck cancers need further investigations.


PMID: 21487776

DOI: 10.1007/s12253-011-9376-9

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