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Oral Oncol. 2008 Mar;44(3):227-35. Epub 2007 Jun 28.

ERBB receptors in developing, dysplastic and malignant oral epithelia.

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Institute of Dentistry, University of Turku, Lemminkäisenkatu 2, Fin-20520, Turku, Finland. <>


Some oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs) overexpress epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) but little is known about the receptor system overall during oral carcinogenesis. We studied all four ERBB receptors (EGFR, ERBB2-4) in developing (n=2), normal (n=7), dysplastic (n=23) and malignant (n=26) oral epithelia by means of immunohistochemistry. The investigations were supplemented by conducting reverse transcription-polymerase chain reactions in relation to 13 OSCC samples. All four ERBB receptors were detected in developing oral epithelium and, to a lesser degree, in mature oral epithelium. An increase in EGFR immunoreactivity was seen in 61% and 54% of dysplasias and OSCCs, respectively. The corresponding percentages for ERBB2 were 48 and 12, for ERBB3 48 and 43. ERBB4 nuclear staining was increased in 30% of dysplasias and 26% of OSCCs. Changes in ERBB receptor mRNA levels were not statistically significant. The results show that ERBB receptor profiles are specific to each tumour. Increased nuclear translocation of ERBB4 in some OSCCs may alter transcription of target genes and be associated with cancer progression. This information may be useful for clinicians as EGFR inhibitors are becoming treatment options in modern oncology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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