Overexpression of ALDH1 and EMT marker profile are linked with unfavorable outcome in head and neck cancer

Head and Neck Cancer

Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2020 Jul 23:23777. doi: 10.4317/medoral.23777. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The aim of this research was to assess the expression of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), and to correlate them with the clinical and histopathological parameters of a patient cohort with follow-up over an 8-year period.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: For this, seventeen HNSCC and non-neoplastic adjacent epithelium (AE) samples were subjected to laser microdissection and real-time PCR to evaluate the mRNA expression of ALDH1, E-cadherin (E-CAD), N-cadherin (N-CAD), and vimentin (VIM). Also, immunohistochemistry was performed for ALDH1, E-CAD, N-CAD, and VIM in the tumor center (TC), invasion front (IF), and AE of the seventeen samples. Mann-Whitney, Kruskal-Wallis and Chi-square tests were used to correlate the mRNA and immunohistochemical expression with different variables, considering p<0.05. Kaplan-Meier curves were produced for local recurrence, regional metastasis and treatment.

RESULTS: A mRNA overexpression of ALDH1 in primary tumors was associated with regional metastasis and a high ALDH1 immunostaining was related to metastasis and a worse patient outcome. Additionally, a favorable outcome was associated with the transition phase and an unfavorable outcome was associated with EMT event. An overall 26.9 months was observed with longer survival associated with surgery and radiotherapy.

CONCLUSIONS: However, due to the intense variability inherent to the indicator proteins in the EMT process, the complete profile markers related to this biological process should be continuous investigated.