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J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. 2018 Mar-Apr;8(2):110-117. doi: 10.4103/jispcd.JISPCD_408_17. Epub 2018 Apr 24.

The Expression and Functional Significance of Vascular Endothelial-Cadherin, CD44, and Vimentin in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

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Department of Oral Pathology, Dental Research Centre, Research Centre for Molecular Medicine, Dental Faculty, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Hamadan, Iran.
Department of Pathology, Besat Hospital, Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Hamadan, Iran.



Ninety percent of head and neck cancers are squamous cell carcinoma which develops in the oral cavity. Metastasis is the main causative factor for death in 90% of all cancer-related deaths and begins with the invasion of tumor cells through the walls of small blood vessels or lymph vessels. A growing body of evidence has shown that vasculogenic mimicry (VM) facilitates tumor growth and cancer metastasis. The current study aimed to present the role of vascular endothelial (VE)-cadherin, CD44, and vimentin in inducing VM and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and to identify the cancer stem cell (CSC) niche in different grades of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).

Materials and Methods:

A total of 63 OSCC samples (21 samples each grade) were collected from the archive of Pathology Department of Besat educational hospital, Hamadan, Iran, from 2000 to 2015. VE-cadherin, CD44, and vimentin/periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) double-staining were used to validate VM. VM was identified by the detection of PAS-positive loops surrounded by tumor cells. Chi-square test was used to examine the differences between the variables. Significant level was set at 0.05. Pearson's correlation was used to assess the co-localization of the markers.


There were statistically significant differences between tumor grade and the expression levels of VE-cadherin, CD44, and vimentin (P = 0.000). In addition, significant differences were found between tumor grade and microvessel density (P = 0.000) and between tumor grade and VM (P = 0.000).


Our results may disclose a definite relationship between VE-cadherin, CD44 and vimentin expression levels, VM formation, EMT, CSCs, and microvessel count in OSCC samples. For this reason, it is suggested that VE-cadherin, CD44, and vimentin are related to angiogenesis and VM formation in OSCC, therefore, in tumor progression and metastasis. Recently, antitumor angiogenic therapies have been challenged. The presence of VM may explain the failure of antiangiogenic treatments.


CD44; oral squamous cell carcinoma; vascular endothelial-cadherin; vasculogenic mimicry; vimentin

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