Quantitative cell-cycle protein expression in oral cancer assessed by computer-assisted system
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The knowledge of cell-cycle control has shown that the capacity of malignant growth is acquired by the stepwise accumulation of defects in specific genes regulating cell growth. Histologic diagnosis might be improved by a quantitative evaluation of more specific diagnosis biomarkers, which could help to precisely identify pre-malignant and malignant oral lesions. The aim of the present study is to evaluate whether computer-based quantitative assessment of p53, PCNA and Ki-67 immunohistochemical expression, could be used clinically to foresee the risk of oral malignant transformation. This retrospective study was carried out in ninety-five oral biopsies, 27 were classified as fibrous inflammatory hyperplasia, 40 as leukoplakia and 28 as oral squamous cell carcinoma. Sixteen out of the 40 leukoplakia were diagnosed as non-dysplastic leukoplakia, the other 24 being dysplastic leukoplakia, of which 50.0% were classified as moderate to severe dysplasia. Comparison of the four groups of oral tissues showed significant rises in p53 and Ki-67 positivity index, which increased steadily in the order benign, pre-malignant, and malignant. In contrast, it was not possible to relate higher PCNA levels with pre-malignant and malignant oral lesions. We therefore conclude that PCNA immunohistochemistry expression is probably an inappropriate marker to identify oral carcinogenesis, whereas joint quantitative evaluation of p53 and Ki-67, appears to be useful as a tumor marker, providing a pre-diagnostic estimate of the potential for cell-cycle deregulation of the oral proliferate status.
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