Immunohistochemical expression of retinoblastoma pathway proteins in normal salivary glands and in salivary gland tumours

Oral Oncol. 2004 Mar;40(3):326-31. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2003.08.021.


The expression of G1-phase cell-cycle regulators is commonly deregulated in human malignancies. In the present study, we investigate components of the retinoblastoma (RB) pathway in normal salivary glands (NSG) and in salivary gland tumours (SGT). Samples of NSG, pleomorphic adenoma (PA), adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC), mucoepidermoid carcinoma (MEC), epithelial-myoepithelial carcinoma (EMC), malignant myoepithelioma (MEM), carcinoma ex pleomorphic adenoma (CEPA), and polymorphous, low-grade adenocarcinoma (PLGA) were examined immunohistochemically using antibodies to cyclin D1, cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK-4), retinoblastoma protein (pRb), CDK inhibitor p16 and transcription factor E2F-1. In normal salivary glands, cyclin D1 and cdk-4 were not expressed in any case while p16 was positively expressed. pRb was abundant and E2F-1 moderately expressed. In tumors, cdk-4 was overexpressed in half of the cases. Most tumour cases showed decreased pRb immunoexpression compared to normal salivary glands. In contrast, expression of p16 and E2F-1 increased. pRb expression was absent in three cases of PA, two of EMC and one of CEPA. One case of MEM and one of PLGA showed no E2F-1 expression. Statistical analyses revealed positive correlations between cyclin D1 and cdk-4, cyclin D1 and E2F-1, cdk-4 and E2F-1, and p16 and E2F-1. The benign and malignant tumours expressed retinoblastoma pathway proteins differently form the normal salivary gland. Our findings suggest that, pRb pathway deregulation in salivary gland neoplasms is unrelated to their biological behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Retinoblastoma Protein / metabolism*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / pathology
  • Salivary Glands / cytology
  • Salivary Glands / metabolism*


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Retinoblastoma Protein