Cannabinoid receptor-2 immunoreactivity is associated with survival in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck

Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2013 Oct;51(7):604-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2013.03.015. Epub 2013 Apr 16.


The prediction of progression of individual tumours, prognosis, and survival in squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the head and neck is difficult. Cannabinoid-1 (CB1) and cannabinoid-2 (CB2) receptor expression is related to survival in several types of cancer, and the aim of this study was to find out whether the expression of CB1 and CB2 receptors is associated with survival in primary SCC of the head and neck. We made immunohistochemical analyses of the cannabinoid receptors on tissue arrays from 240 patients with the disease. Receptor immunoreactivity was classified as none, weak, moderate, or strong staining. Overall survival and disease-specific survival were plotted using Kaplan-Meier survival curves. A multivariate Cox proportional hazard model was created with all the relevant clinical and pathological features. Strong immunoreactivity of the CB2 receptor was significantly associated with reduced disease-specific survival (p=0.007). Cox-proportional hazard ratio (HR) showed that CB2 receptor immunoreactivity contributed to the prediction of survival (HR 3.6, 95% CI 1.5-8.7, p=0.004). Depth of invasion (HR 2.2, 95% CI 1.2-4.2, p=0.01) and vascular invasion (HR 2.5, 95% CI 1.4-4.5, p=0.001) were also associated with survival.

Keywords: CB2 receptor; Cannabinoid receptor 2; Cannabinoids; Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma; Prognosis; Survival.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / immunology*


  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2