Leukoplakia and Immunology: New Chemoprevention Landscapes?

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Sep 19;21(18):6874. doi: 10.3390/ijms21186874.


Oral potentially malignant disorders (OPMDs) comprise a range of clinical-pathological alterations frequently characterized by an architectural and cytological derangements upon histological analysis. Among them, oral leukoplakia is the most common type of these disorders. This work aims to analyze the possible use of drugs such as immunochemopreventive agents for OPMDs. Chemoprevention is the use of synthetic or natural compounds for the reversal, suppression, or prevention of a premalignant lesion conversion to malignant form. Experimental and in vivo data offer us the promise of molecular prevention through immunomodulation; however, currently, there is no evidence for the efficacy of these drugs in the chemoprevention action. Alternative ways to deliver drugs, combined use of molecules with complementary antitumor activities, diet influence, and better definition of individual risk factors must also be considered to reduce toxicity, improve compliance to the protocol treatment and offer a better individualized prevention. In addition, we must carefully reconsider the mode of action of many traditional cancer chemoprevention agents on the immune system, such as enhancing immunosurveillance and reversing the immune evasion. Several studies emphasize the concept of green chemoprevention as an alternative approach to accent healthy lifestyle changes in order to decrease the incidence of HNSCC.

Keywords: HNSCC; Leukoplakia; OPMDs; cancer; chemoprevention; immunology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Leukoplakia, Oral* / immunology
  • Leukoplakia, Oral* / prevention & control
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / immunology
  • Mouth Neoplasms* / prevention & control


  • Anticarcinogenic Agents