Identification of potential salivary biomarker panels for oral squamous cell carcinoma

Sci Rep. 2021 Feb 9;11(1):3365. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-82635-0.


Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the most prevalent cancers worldwide with the maximum number of incidences and deaths reported from India. One of the major causes of poor survival rate associated with OSCC has been attributed to late presentation due to non-availability of a biomarker. Identification of early diagnostic biomarker will help in reducing the disease morbidity and mortality. We validated 12 salivary proteins using targeted proteomics, identified initially by relative quantification of salivary proteins on LC-MS, in OSCC patients and controls. Salivary AHSG (p = 0.0041**) and KRT6C (p = 0.002**) were upregulated in OSCC cases and AZGP1 (p ≤ 0.0001***), KLK1 (p = 0.006**) and BPIFB2 (p = 0.0061**) were downregulated. Regression modelling resulted in a significant risk prediction model (p < 0.0001***) consisting of AZGP1, AHSG and KRT6C for which ROC curve had AUC, sensitivity and specificity of 82.4%, 78% and 73.5% respectively for all OSCC cases and 87.9%, 87.5% and 73.5% respectively for late stage (T3/T4) OSCC. AZGP1, AHSG, KRT6C and BPIFB2 together resulted in ROC curve (p < 0.0001***) with AUC, sensitivity and specificity of 94%, 100% and 77.6% respectively for N0 cases while KRT6C and AZGP1 for N+ cases with ROC curve (p < 0.0001***) having AUC sensitivity and specificity of 76.8%, 73% and 69.4%. Our data aids in the identification of biomarker panels for the diagnosis of OSCC cases with a differential diagnosis between early and late-stage cases.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / metabolism*
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides