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Oncol Lett. 2011 Jan;2(1):79-83. Epub 2010 Nov 8.

Phenotype of tumor lymphatic vessels is a prognostic factor in human tongue squamous cell carcinoma.

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Department of Oral Pathology and Biology, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Dental Medicine, Sapporo 060-8586, Japan.


Tumor metastasis to lymph nodes occurs through the lymphatic vessels located in the tumor circumference. However, few studies have focused on the phenotypes of lymphatic vessels around these tumors. We investigated the characteristics of the lymph vessels of tongue squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and compared them to clinicopathological characteristics. A total of 43 patients diagnosed as having tongue SCC consulted Hokkaido University Hospital were examined. The lymphatic vessels were identified by antibody D2-40 and the number and diameter of tumor lymphatic vessels were measured. The proliferative activity of lymphatic endothelial cells was also examined by immunostaining using antibody MIB-1. We then measured the DNA density of lymphatic endothelial cells in normal and tumor tissues. The number of tumor lymphatic vessels significantly increased in highly metastatic cases of tongue SCC, particularly in cases with a large number of micro lymphatic vessels. A significant correlation was found between the metastatic and proliferative activity of tumor lymphatic endothelial cells. Moreover, the DNA density of tumor lymphatic endothelial cells increased compared to normal tissues. These results suggest that the phenotypes of tumor lymphatic endothelial cells are an indicator of lymph node metastasis of tongue SCC.

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