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Anticancer Res. 1995 Jul-Aug;15(4):1453-7.

Detection of p53 and MDM2 protein expression in head and neck carcinogenesis.

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  • 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, University of Koeln, Germany.


Hyperplastic lesions of the oropharyngeal mucosa such as leukoplakia and oral lichen planus can eventually develop into squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) and provide an excellent model for multistage carcinogenesis. The development of carcinomas is assumed to be the result of the interaction of genetic factors, locally applied carcinogens and immunological unresponsiveness. Recently a novel gene termed mdm2 has been isolated that is found to be involved in transcriptional regulation and can inhibit p53 function by forming a complex with p53. In this study the immunohistochemical detection of the MDM2 protein in 186 paraffin embedded tissue sections of normal mucosa, premalignant, malignant and metastatic lesions of the oropharyngeal mucosa is reported for the first time. p53 protein expression was also investigated in the same tissue samples. The increase in the number of p53 and MDM2 positive biopsies was correlated with the dysplasia grade and the loss of differentiation in the premalignant and malignant lesions. In late stages of the disease the number of biopsies that expressed both p53 and MDM2 increased. Inactivation of p53 function in head and neck carcinogenesis may also be due to MDM2 binding. Detection of MDM2 protein expression by immunohistochemistry may be an important diagnostic tool in the future.

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