Background: The caveolin-1 protein (structural component of membrane caveolae) plays important roles in several biological functions, such as endocytosis, cell adhesion, and cell signaling. However, this protein has been associated with mechanisms of tumorigenesis in several neoplasms. The expression patterns and roles of caveolin-1 in the oral epithelium and in embryonic and odontogenic tumor tissues are still unclear.
Material and methods: The expression of caveolin-1 was evaluated in samples of the normal gingival epithelium (n=7), human tooth germ (TG) (n=12), ameloblastoma (AM) (n=83), and ameloblastic carcinoma (AC) (n=9) by immunohistochemistry. Additionally, AM samples were analyzed by qRT-PCR and Western blot.
Results: Most TG (91.7%), AM (73.5%) and AC (100%) samples showed diverse patterns of immunohistochemical positivity for caveolin-1, while only one gingival sample was positive. The transcript levels of cav-1 were significantly upregulated by 14.9-fold in AM tissue (P = 0.0014) compared to those in normal gingival epithelial tissue, as shown by qRT-PCR. Presence of caveolin-1 protein was confirmed by Western blot analysis. The caveolin-1 immunoexpression patterns throughout the stages of TG show its importance during odontogenesis.
Conclusions: The overexpression of caveolin-1 in AM and AC compared to its expression in normal gingival epithelium (adult tissue) suggests a possible role of caveolin-1 in protumoral events, but due to the similar immunoexpression observed in AM and AC, caveolin-1 may not necessarily participate in the malignant transformation process. However, future studies are needed to clarify and confirm these hypotheses.