Urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor expression in adenoid cystic carcinoma of the skull base

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2003 Feb;129(2):215-8. doi: 10.1001/archotol.129.2.215.


Background: Head and neck adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is a malignancy of the salivary and lacrimal glands with a variable growth pattern and propensity for perineural spread. Involvement of the skull base indicates a poor prognosis. Despite surgical resection and adjuvant radiotherapy, tumor recurrence and metastases are common. The urokinase-type plasminogen activator and its receptor (uPAR) have an important role in tumor invasion and metastasis. The expression of uPAR is predictive of poor outcomes in many tumors. This study examines the expression of human uPAR in ACCs involving the skull base.

Objectives: To determine uPAR expression in ACCs of the skull base by immunohistochemical analysis and compare expression with tumor histologic findings and clinical outcomes.

Study design: Analysis of uPAR in archival ACC specimens and a retrospective medical chart review.

Setting: Multidisciplinary cranial base program at a university medical center with tertiary referral pattern.

Results: Ten (83%) of 12 tumors stained positive for uPAR. Three of 3 patients who died of ACC and 6 of 6 patients alive with disease expressed uPAR. Only 1 of 3 patients free of disease was uPAR positive.

Conclusions: In most patients with ACC of the skull base, uPAR was expressed. Its expression seems to be a negative prognostic factor. However, the small study sample limits our observations. Additional study of uPAR expression in ACC at other anatomic sites is required.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Plasminogen Activators / analysis*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / analysis*
  • Receptors, Urokinase Plasminogen Activator
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Skull Base Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Survival Rate
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / analysis*


  • PLAUR protein, human
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Urokinase Plasminogen Activator
  • Plasminogen Activators
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator