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Hum Pathol. 2000 Aug;31(8):931-7.

Variable expression of cathepsin B and D correlates with highly invasive and metastatic phenotype of oral cancer.

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Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA.


The expression levels of cathepsins B, D, and L in oral cancer surgical specimens were determined using immunocytochemical analysis. Cathepsins B and D are frequently overexpressed in squamous cell carcinomas, whereas their overexpression was less frequent in verrucous carcinoma and basaloid squamous cell carcinomas. Elevated level of cathepsin B in oral carcinomas was significantly associated with advanced tumor stage (P < .05) and poor histologic malignancy grade (P < .001). Increased expression of cathepsin D correlated significantly with the presence of metastasis (P < .05), poor histologic malignancy grade (P < .001), and high proliferation rate (P < .05). Cathepsin L was less frequently overexpressed in oral cancers than cathepsin B and D. These findings indicate that there is a strong cause/effect relationship between the expression levels of cathepsin B and D in oral cancers and their local invasive and metastatic growth patterns. Thus, cathepsins B and D are useful prognostic markers as well as promising gene therapy targets for oral cancer.

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