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Br J Cancer. 2008 Mar 11;98(5):956-64. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604245. Epub 2008 Feb 12.

Prognostic significance of cortactin levels in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: comparison with epidermal growth factor receptor status.

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Laboratory of Clinical and Experimental Pathology, Tissue Biobank Unit, Pasteur Hospital, Nice, and INSERM ERI-21, Faculty of Medicine, University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France.


Cortactin is an actin-binding Src substrate involved in cell motility and invasion. In this study, we sought to examine the prognostic importance of cortactin protein expression in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). To do so, cortactin and EGF receptor (EGFR) expression was retrospectively evaluated by immunohistochemistry in a tissue microarray composed of 176 HNSCCs with a mean follow-up time of 5 years. Cortactin immunoreactivity was weak to absent in normal epithelial tissue. Overexpression of the protein in 77 out of 176 tumours (44%) was associated with more advanced tumour-node-metastasis stage and higher histologic grade. Cortactin overexpression was associated with significantly increased local recurrence rates (49 vs 28% for high and low expressing carcinomas, respectively), decreased disease-free survival (17 vs 61%), and decreased the 5-year overall survival of (21 vs 58%), independently of the EGFR status. In multivariate analysis, cortactin expression status remained an independent prognostic factor for local recurrence, disease-free survival, and overall survival. Importantly, we identified a subset of patients with cortactin-overexpressing tumours that displayed low EGFR levels and a survival rate that equalled that of patients with tumoral overexpression of both EGFR and cortactin. These findings identify cortactin as a relevant prognostic marker and may have implications for targeted therapies in patients with HNSCC.

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