Monitoring carcinogenesis in a case of oral squamous cell carcinoma using a panel of new metabolic blood biomarkers as liquid biopsies

Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2016 Sep;20(3):295-302. doi: 10.1007/s10006-016-0549-2. Epub 2016 Feb 13.


Introduction: One of the common malignant tumors of the head and neck worldwide with generally unfavorable prognosis is squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) of the oral cavity. Early detection of primary, secondary, or recurrent OSCC by liquid biopsy tools is much needed.

Case presentation: Twelve blood biomarkers were used for monitoring a case of OSCC suffering from precancerous oral lichen ruber planus mucosae (OLP). After curative R0 tumor resection of primary OSCC (buccal mucosa), elevated epitope detection in monocytes (EDIM)-Apo10, EDIM-transketolase-like-1 (TKTL1), squamous cell carcinoma antigen (SCC-Ag), total serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and its anaerobic isoforms (LDH-4, LDH-5) decreased to normal levels. Three and six months after surgery, transformation of suspicious mucosal lesions has been accompanied with an increase of EDIM scores, total serum LDH values, and a metabolic shift from aerobic (decrease of LDH-1, LDH-2) to anaerobic (increase of LDH-4, LDH-5) conditions. Two months later, secondary OSCC was histopathologically analyzed after tissue biopsy. Cytokeratin fraction 21-1 (CYFRA 21-1), carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) were not affected during the clinical course of carcinogenesis.

Conclusions: A combination strategy using a standardized panel of established (metabolic) blood biomarkers (TKTL1, LDH, LDH isoenzymes) is worth and can be recommended among others (apoptosis resistance-related Apo10, SCC-Ag) for early detection and diagnosis of primary, secondary, and recurrent OSCC. A tandem strategy utilizing (metabolic pronounced) routine liquid biopsies with imaging techniques may enhance diagnosis of OSCC in the future. Although we demonstrated the diagnostic utility of separated liquid biopsies in our previous study cohorts, further investigations in a larger patient cohort are necessary to recommend this combination strategy (EDIM blood test, LDH value, metabolic shift of LDH isoenzymes, and others, e.g., SCC-Ag or immunophenotyping) as a diagnostic tool for the addition to the OSCC staging system and as a routine procedure in the aftercare.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Cytokeratin fraction 21-1; Epitope detection in monocytes (EDIM) technology; Lactate dehydrogenase; Oral squamous cell carcinoma; Squamous cell carcinoma antigen; Transketolase-like-1; monitoring.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Biopsy / methods
  • Carcinogenesis / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / blood*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lichen Planus, Oral / blood*
  • Lichen Planus, Oral / pathology*
  • Lichen Planus, Oral / surgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / blood*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / surgery
  • Neck Dissection
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / blood
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Precancerous Conditions / blood*
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*
  • Precancerous Conditions / surgery
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Biomarkers, Tumor