Molecular markers of micrometastasis in oral cavity carcinomas

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009 Jul;141(1):52-8. doi: 10.1016/j.otohns.2009.01.041. Epub 2009 Mar 12.


Objective: To examine the expression of candidate markers for micrometastasis.

Study design: Cross-sectional analysis of subjects with oral cavity carcinomas who underwent sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) and subsequent immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis.

Subjects and methods: Two groups were identified based on SLNB status: negative SLNB (19/30) and positive SLNB (11/30). Specimens underwent IHC using conjugated monoclonal antibodies for membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP), CD44, focal adhesion kinase-1, and E-cadherin. Staining results were evaluated to determine if a particular marker was associated with SLNB status or other histopathologic prognosticators.

Results: For MT1-MMP, 21 percent (3/14) of evaluable specimens stained positively in the SLNB(-) group and 67 percent (4/6) stained positively in the SLNB(+) group (P=0.12). No statistically significant association was seen between any marker's staining pattern and SLNB status alone. When MT1-MMP staining was evaluated in tumors with SLNB(+) or perineural invasion (PNI) present on histopathology, six of nine specimens (67%) stained positively for MT1-MMP, vs one of 11 (9%) in specimens lacking either negative prognosticator (P=0.016, RR=7.33).

Conclusion: Preliminary results suggest that MT1-MMP positivity in primary tumor specimens may identify aggressive tumor types, evidenced by the presence of micrometastasis or PNI.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / metabolism
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 14 / metabolism
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CD44 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 14