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Indian J Pathol Microbiol. 2020 Jan-Mar;63(1):7-12. doi: 10.4103/IJPM.IJPM_783_18.

Molecular mechanisms of tobacco induced oral and oropharyngeal cancer: Results of a tissue microarray and immunohistochemistry-based study from a tertiary cancer center in India.

Author information

Department of Surgical Oncology, Vydehi Institute of Oncology, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.
Department of Pathology, Rohilkhand Medical College and Hospital, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India.



It is well established that chronic exposure to tobacco induces head and neck cancers but the exact etiopathogenesis is not known. Though studies have shown expression of TIMP1, EPS8 and AXL in cancers, their role in tobacco-induced cancers is not known. We aimed this study to evaluate the role of these molecules in oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell cancers (SCC).

Materials and Methods:

In this single institutional study, 31 patients of oral and oropharyngeal SCC with history of chewing tobacco were included. Smokers were excluded from the study. After informed consent biopsies were taken from affected and contralateral normal mucosa. Paraffin blocks were made and tissue microarray (TMA) were constructed using these blocks. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) for TIMP1, EPS8, AXL kinase was carried out on these tissue microarrays. The intensity of staining was scored from 0 to 3+, related to expression of each of the three molecules.


The expression of TIMP1, EPS8 and AXL kinase was significantly more in the cancerous mucosa versus non-cancerous mucosa (P = 0.000 in all three) in oral and oropharyngeal SCC exposed to chewing tobacco.


Immunohistochemical expression of these molecular markers in oral and oropharyngeal SCC correlated with their molecular based studies. Significant IHC expression of TIMP1, EPS8 and AXL establishes their role in the pathogenesis of oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas. Novel targeted therapies may be researched that can detect and target these molecules at an earlier stage of pathogenesis of these tumors.


AXL; EPS8; TIMP1; chewing tobacco; immunohistochemistry; oral cancer; tissue microarray

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