Background: Autophagy is a cellular process responsible for maintaining homeostasis; a dysregulation of this process is involved in the development and progression of neoplasms. Beclin-1 is one of the major proteins linked to autophagy. However, the data regarding the association between the role of Beclin-1 and the progression of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC) are rather low. For this reason, the objective of this study is to evaluate, through immunohistochemical techniques, the prognostic role of the expression of Beclin-1 autophagy marker in patients with OSCC.
Methods: This is a single-centre retrospective study that includes patients with OSCC admitted to the Maxillofacial Unit of "Magna Graecia" University between January 2019 and September 2020. All the samples obtained from surgery were treated with anti Beclin-1 antibodies and subjected to immunohistochemical methods.
Results: A total of 26 samples were analysed and the following variables were evaluated for each: percentage of positive Beclin-1 expression by tumour cells, signal strength of tumour cells, and total score. The variables considered were first normalised according to the D'Agostino and Pearson test, then analysed using the Pearson linear correlation coefficient: a statistically significant correlation was found between the parameters infiltration-intensity (p = 0.0088), infiltration-percent (p = 0.0123), intensity-total score (p = 0.0060).
Conclusions: The immunohistochemical evaluation of Beclin-1 revealed a statistically significant correlation between the intensity of the molecule's expression and a greater degree of infiltration of the neoplasm. Beclin-1 can, therefore, be considered a valid prognostic index of disease.
Keywords: Beclin-1; head and neck cancer; maxillofacial surgery; oncological surgery; oral cancer.