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J Mol Diagn. 2001 Nov;3(4):164-70.

Genetic heterogeneity in saliva from patients with oral squamous carcinomas: implications in molecular diagnosis and screening.

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Department of Pathology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


We performed microsatellite analysis at chromosomal regions frequently altered in head and neck squamous carcinoma on matched saliva and tumor samples from 37 patients who had oral squamous carcinoma. The results were correlated with the cytologic findings and traditional clinicopathologic factors to assess the diagnostic and biological potential of these markers. Our data showed that 18 (49%) of the saliva samples and 32 (86%) of the tumors had loss of heterozygosity (LOH) in at least one of the 25 markers studied. In saliva, the combination of markers D3S1234, D9S156, and D17S799 identified 13 (72.2%) of the 18 patients with LOH in saliva (P < 0.001). For tumors, markers D3S1234, D8S254, and D9S171 together identified 27 (84.3%) of the 32 tumors with LOH at any of the loci tested (P < 0.001). Eleven (55%) of the 20 saliva samples with cytologic atypia and seven (35%) of the 17 specimens without atypia had LOH. Significant correlation between LOH in tumor at certain markers and smoking and alcohol use was found. Our results indicate that: 1) epithelial cells in saliva from patients with head and neck squamous tumorigenesis provide suitable material for genetic analysis; 2) combined application of certain markers improves the detection of genetic alteration in these patients; 3) clonal heterogeneity between saliva and matching tumor supports genetic instability of the mucosal field in some of these patients; and 4) LOH at certain chromosomal loci appears to be associated with smoking and alcohol consumption.

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