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J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2007 Jan;35(1):1-9. Epub 2007 Feb 12.

Expression of E-cadherin, P-cadherin and N-cadherin in oral squamous cell carcinoma: correlation with the clinicopathologic features and patient outcome.

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Dentistry, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea.



Alteration of cadherin expression is associated with the loss of cellular differentiation, the acquisition of an invasive phenotype and a poor prognosis in many types of cancer. This study aimed to evaluate the immunoreactivity of E-, P- and N-cadherins (cad) in oral squamous cell carcinoma and to correlate their expression with clinicopathological features and clinical outcome. The interaction between the cadherins was also investigated.


A total of 71 tissue samples were examined by immunohistochemical methods on paraffin sections using specific antibodies.


In the primary lesions and lymph node metastases, the immunoreactivity of E-cad was reduced and P-cad was over-expressed, but the expression of N-cad was negative (p<0.001, 0.01 and 0.05, respectively). The reduced primary E-cad expression was related to the invasion pattern and lymph node metastasis (p=0.046 and 0.037, respectively). However, the expression of cadherins did not appear to differ significantly in relation to the histological grade, invasion, tumour size, stage of oral SCC or tumour recurrence. A much greater reduction in the expression of E-cad was found in the positive N-cadherin group (p=0.008). Nonetheless, cadherin expression was not significantly associated with failure-free survival or overall survival in this experiment subset.


The reduced E-cad expression and the aberrant N-cad expression are closely associated with each other in oral cancer cases, and this suggests that cadherin switching from E. cad to N. cad may play a critical role in cancer development and metastasis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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