Aims: To investigate survivin expression in laryngeal squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC), its prognostic significance and relation to p53 status. Survivin is an inhibitor of apoptosis protein that is overexpressed in cancer. It has been implicated in both prevention of apoptosis and cell cycle regulation. It has been suggested that wild-type p53 represses survivin expression.
Methods and results: Expression of survivin and p53 was analysed in 68 archival biopsy specimens of LSCC by immunohistochemistry. Survivin was detected in 67 of 68 LSCC cases; the proportion of survivin-positive cells varied from 8.2% to 100%. It was localized in the nucleus and/or cytoplasm of tumour cells. Of LSCC cases, 31.8% were p53+. The number of survivin-positive cells was significantly higher in the p53+ group. A high level of survivin expression and a supraglottic site of the tumour were two independent adverse prognostic factors in LSCC.
Conclusions: Survivin is expressed in a varying proportion of cells in virtually all cases of LSCC. A high level of its expression predicts poor survival. Loss of wild-type p53 is a possible mechanism of survivin up-regulation in LSCC.