Identification of EGFR as a Biomarker in Saliva and Buccal Cells from Oral Submucous Fibrosis Patients-A Baseline Study

Diagnostics (Basel). 2022 Aug 11;12(8):1935. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics12081935.


Oral Submucous Fibrosis (OSMF) is a chronic debilitating disease more frequently encountered in the South-East Asian population. This disease represents a public health priority as it is grouped within oral potentially malignant disorders, with malignant transformation rates of around 7-19%. Hence, early identification of high-risk OSMF patients is of the utmost importance to prevent malignant transformation. Among various biomarkers, EGFR overexpression has an unfavorable clinical outcome, poor prognosis, and low survival rates in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma (OSCC). The current study aimed to evaluate the expression of EGFR in saliva and exfoliated buccal cells of OSMF. Immunoexpression of EGFR was observed in healthy controls (n = 11), OSCC (n = 106), and OPMD with dysplasia (n = 56), which showed significant expression with increasing grades of dysplasia and OSCC. EGFR expression was evaluated in saliva and exfoliated buccal cells of healthy controls (n = 15), OSMF (n = 24), and OSCC (n = 10) patients using ELISA, which revealed significant expression in OSMF and OSCC. Validation studies were also performed using real-time PCR (RT-PCR) to compare gene expression in healthy controls (n = 9), OSMF (n = 9), and OSCC (n = 25), which showed significant 18-fold upregulation in OSCC and three-fold upregulation in OSMF when compared to healthy controls. Hence, saliva and exfoliated buccal cells could be considered as potential non-invasive diagnostic samples for the evaluation of high-risk patients of OSMF using EGFR as a biomarker.

Keywords: EGFR; ELISA; OSMF; biomarker; immunohistochemistry.