Overexpression of galectin-1 at the tumor invasion front is associated with poor prognosis in early-stage oral squamous cell carcinoma

Oral Oncol. 2008 Apr;44(4):325-34. doi: 10.1016/j.oraloncology.2007.03.004. Epub 2007 Jun 27.


Metastasis is a final and eventually fatal step in the progression of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and typically accompanies a large primary tumor. Metastasis may also present from a small primary tumor and progress rapidly; therefore, early diagnosis is important for patients with small primary tumors. Galectin-1 is one significantly upregulated tumor-associated protein in many neoplasms. To determine the clinical significance of galectin-1, we analyzed its expression in clinical samples by immunohistochemistry and reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay. Galectin-1 protein was significantly overexpressed in the tumor-associated stroma as well as the invasion front during early oral carcinogenesis (P<0.05). During the metastatic stage, the only significant immunoreactivity was at the tumor invasion front (P<0.05). Although galectin-1 mRNA was not significantly upregulated in the whole cancerous tissue, it was upregulated in stromal parts during early-stage OSCC and in epithelial parts at the metastatic stage. Survival analysis and a Cox's proportional hazards model showed that synchronous upregulation of galectin-1 protein and mRNA was correlated with worse disease-free survival in early-stage OSCC (P=0.024 and P=0.047, respectively). Our findings suggest that galectin-1 upregulation at the tumor invasion front might be a predictor of early metastasis in oral carcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / secondary
  • Disease Progression
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Galectin 1 / genetics
  • Galectin 1 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Survival Analysis
  • Up-Regulation


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Galectin 1
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Neoplasm