Increase in immune cell infiltration with progression of oral epithelium from hyperkeratosis to dysplasia and carcinoma

Br J Cancer. 2002 May 6;86(9):1444-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6600282.


In the present study, epithelium derived lesions of various pathological manifestations were examined histologically and immunohistochemically for mononuclear cell infiltration. The infiltrate under the transformed epithelium of oral lesions, was examined for differences in the composition of immune mononuclear cells as the epithelium moves from hyperkeratosis through various degrees of dysplasia to squamous cell carcinoma. The study was performed on 53 human tongue tissues diagnosed as hyperkeratosis (11 cases), mild dysplasia (nine cases), moderate and severe dysplasia (14 cases) and squamous cell carcinoma (19 cases). A similar analysis was performed on 30 parotid gland tissues diagnosed as pleomorphic adenoma (14 cases) and carcinoma ex-pleomorphic adenoma (16 cases). Immunohistochemical analysis of various surface markers of the tumour infiltrating immune cells was performed and correlated with the transformation level as defined by morphology and the expression of p53 in the epithelium. The results revealed that, in the tongue lesions, the changes in the epithelium from normal appearance to transformed were accompanied by a corresponding increase in the infiltration of CD4, CD8, CD14, CD19+20, and HLA/DR positive cells. The most significant change was an increase in B lymphocytes in tongue lesions, that was in accordance with the transformation level (P<0.001). In the salivary gland, a significant number of cases did not show an infiltrate. In cases where an infiltrate was present, a similar pattern was observed and the more malignant tissues exhibited a higher degree of immune cell infiltration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / immunology*
  • Carcinoma / physiopathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / physiopathology
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / physiology*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Precancerous Conditions / immunology*
  • Precancerous Conditions / physiopathology
  • Tongue / pathology