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Virchows Arch. 2014 Jan;464(1):35-43. doi: 10.1007/s00428-013-1508-z. Epub 2013 Nov 19.

Cancer stem cell characteristics, ALDH1 expression in the invasive front of nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

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Cancer Research Institute, Southern Medical University, 1838 Guangzhou Road North, Guangzhou, 510515, Guangdong, People's Republic of China,


The invasive tumor front underlies the biological aggressiveness and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in various human malignances. However, the molecular and biological characteristics of invasive tumor front in NPC have rarely been described. Additionally, the features of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in the invasive front of tumors and its correlation with EMT also remain elusive. Our study was to investigate the expression of CSCs marker aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1) in the invasive front of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and its clinical significance. Immunohistochemistry was mainly used to detect ALDH1 expression in the invasive front of NPC. The relationship between ALDH1 expression and EMT-associated markers was also examined. ALDH1 expression in the invasive front correlated strongly with lymphatic invasion (p<0.001), T classification (p=0.001), M classification (p<0.001), clinical stage (p<0.001), and local recurrence (p=0.008). ALDH1 overexpression in the invasive front contributed to worse survival of NPC, particularly in patients with early stage (T1-T2 or N0-N1) (p<0.001 and p=0.002, respectively), though it was not an independent prognostic factor (p=0.196). Furthermore, in the invasive front of NPC, ALDH1 expression correlated significantly with EMT-related biomarkers E-cadherin (p=0.026), Vimentin (p<0.001), Periostin (p<0.001), and Snail (p<0.001), but not with β-catenin (p=0.143). Our findings demonstrate first that ALDH1 expression in the invasive front links closely with EMT characteristics and tumor aggressiveness, which might provide a useful prognostic marker for NPC patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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