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Eur J Histochem. 2001;45(4):333-46.

Immunohistochemical detection of early-stage carcinogenesis of oral leukoplakia by increased DNA-instability and various malignancy markers.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Fukui Medical University, Yoshida-Gun, Japan.


The degree of DNA instability as determined by immunohistochemical staining with anti-single-stranded DNA antibody after acid hydrolysis (the DNA instability test) was used as a marker of malignancy. The test was applied to tissues of oral leukoplakia assessed histopathologically as hyperplasia (38 cases), mild (12 cases), moderate (11 cases) and severe (8 cases) dysplasia, and invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC, 20 cases). Tissues were subjected to immunohistochemical staining for proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), p53, DNA-fragmentation factor 45 (DFF45), analysis of various AgNORs parameters, and triple immunostaining for vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), CD34, and PCNA. The DNA instability test was positive in 20 (100%) SCC cases, 8 (100%) severe dysplasia cases, 8 (72.7%) moderate dysplasia cases, 6 (50.0%) mild dysplasia cases, and 9 (23.7%) hyperplasia cases, indicating malignancy. The proportion of lesions positive for PCNA, p53, DFF45, and values of AgNORs parameters steadily increased from hyperplasia to mild, moderate and severe dysplasia, and SCC, especially in those showing positive DNA instability test, indicative of malignancy. Based on these results, 44.9% of leukoplakia were malignant tissues, namely carcinoma in situ. The proportion of PCNA-positive vascular endothelial cells in the vicinity of VEGF-positive epithelial lesion was significantly higher than that of negative DNA instability lesions, as revealed by immunohistochemical triple staining for VEGF, CD34, and PCNA. Our results suggest that increased DNA instability, enhanced proliferative activity, p53 mutation, and induction of DFF45 and VEGF may allow cancer cell proliferation, enhance their survival by escaping apoptosis, and provide abundant nutrients during early-stage carcinogenesis of oral leukoplakia.

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