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1.  Evidence for the aetiology of human papillomavirus in oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma in the Chinese population: a meta-analysis 
BMJ Open  2013;3(11):e003604.
We aimed to conduct a meta-analysis of human papillomavirus (HPV) as a risk factor for oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in China, using all eligible studies published in the English and Chinese language literature.
The random effect model was used to analyse the pooled OR. The I2 and Q tests were included in the subgroup analyses.
Literature searches of databases including MEDLINE, PUBMED, EMBASE and Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI) and other available resources were performed to retrieve studies investigating OSCC tissue from Chinese participants for the presence of HPV DNA.
Primary outcome measure
A collective analysis of OSCC cases and control specimens was carried out from 15 case–control studies (6 in the English language and 9 in the Chinese language) for HPV prevalence.
Of a total of 1177 OSCC and 1648 oesophageal control samples, 55% (642/1177) of cancer specimens and 27% (445/1648) of control samples were positive for HPV DNA. A positive strong association between HPV DNA and OSCC was observed among the included studies, with a pooled OR of 3.69 (95% CI 2.74 to 4.96). Heterogeneity and publication bias were not observed in the analysis. Subgroup analyses of the included studies also supported the measure of association of causal links between HPV and OSCC.
This meta-analysis provides the strongest evidence until now of an association between HPV and OSCC in the Chinese population. China has a high burden of OSCC, making this an important research finding. A strength and new contribution of this study is combining data from the English and Chinese language literature to analyse all studies conducted in China. These findings may inform the population level use of prophylactic HPV vaccination to reduce the burden of OSCC in China.
PMCID: PMC3831092  PMID: 24240141
2.  The Aetiological Role of Human Papillomavirus in Oesophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma: A Meta-Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69238.
The aetiological role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has been widely researched for more than three decades, with conflicting findings. In the absence of a large, adequately powered single case-control study, a meta-analysis of all available case-control studies is the most rigorous way of identifying any potential association between HPV and OSCC. We present the first global meta-analysis of case-control studies investigating the role of HPV in OSCC.
Case-control studies investigating OSCC tissue for presence of HPV DNA were identified. 21 case-control studies analyzing a total of 1223 cases and 1415 controls, met our inclusion criteria. HPV detection rates were tabulated for each study and all studies were assessed for quality. The random effects method was used to pool the odds ratios (OR).
From all OSCC specimens included in this meta-analysis, 35% (426/1223) were positive for HPV DNA. The pooled OR for an HPV-OSCC association was 3.04 (95% CI 2.20 to 4.20). Meta-regression analysis did not find a significant association between OR and any of the quality domains. Influence analysis was non-significant for the effect of individual studies on the pooled estimate. Studies conducted in countries with low to medium OSCC incidence showed a stronger relationship (OR 4.65, 95% CI 2.47 to 8.76) than regions of high OSCC incidence (OR 2.65, 95% CI 1.80 to 3.91).
Uncertainty around the aetiological role of HPV in OSCC is due largely to the small number and scale of appropriately designed studies. Our meta-analysis of these studies suggests that HPV increases the risk of OSCC three-fold. This study provides the strongest evidence to date of an HPV-OSCC association. The importance of these findings is that prophylactic vaccination could be of public health benefit in prevention of OSCC in countries with high OSCC incidence.
PMCID: PMC3722293  PMID: 23894436
3.  Gastric atrophy and oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma: possible interaction with dental health and oral hygiene habit 
British Journal of Cancer  2012;107(5):888-894.
Gastric fundal atrophy has been hypothesised to increase the risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), but studies have shown inconsistent results.
We measured serum pepsinogen I (PGI) and pepsinogen II (PGII) among 293 incident cases and 524 matched neighbourhood controls in a high-risk area of Northern Iran. Conditional logistic regression model was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
After controlling for age, sex, residence area and other potential confounders, gastric atrophy (defined by a validated criterion, PGI <55 μg dl−1) was associated with a two-fold increased risk (OR=2.01, 95% CI: 1.18, 3.45) of OSCC in the absence of nonatrophic pangastritis (defined as PGII <11.8 μg dl−1). Stratification by PGII decreased the misclassification errors due to cancer-induced gastritis. Presence of both poor dental health, indicated by higher than median sum of decayed, missing, and filled teeth (DMFT score), and gastric atrophy further increased the risk of OSCC (OR=4.15, 95% CI: 2.04, 8.42) with relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI) of 1.47 (95% CI: −1.15, 4.1). Coexistence of poor oral hygiene habit with gastric atrophy elevated OSCC risk eight times (OR=8.65, 95% CI: 3.65, 20.46) and the additive interaction index was marginally statistically significant (RERI=4.34, 95% CI: −1.07, 9.76).
Gastric atrophy is a risk factor for OSCC, and poor dental health and oral hygiene habit may act synergistically in increasing the risk.
PMCID: PMC3425966  PMID: 22814581
atrophic gastritis; oesophageal neoplasm; relative risk; dental health; oral hygiene; pepsinogen
4.  Serum ghrelin is inversely associated with risk of subsequent oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma 
Gut  2011;61(11):1533-1537.
Oesophageal cancers rank as the eighth most common cancer and the sixth most common cause of cancer death, worldwide. Gastric atrophy, as determined by a low serum pepsinogen I/II ratio, may be associated with an increased risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Ghrelin, a hormone which, like pepsinogen, is produced in the fundic glands of the stomach, may be a sensitive and specific marker of gastric atrophy, but its association with OSCC is not known.
To examine the relationship between baseline serum ghrelin concentration and subsequent risk of OSCC, we conducted a nested case-control study within the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study. 82 cases of OSCC were matched (1:1) by age and date of blood draw to controls from the ATBC study. Serum ghrelin was measured by radioimmunoassay. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated using conditional logistic regression with adjustment for potential confounders.
For those individuals in the lowest quartile of serum ghrelin, compared to those in the highest, the multivariate odds ratio of subsequent OSCC was 6.83 (95% CI: 1.46, 31.84). These associations were dose dependent (P for trend = 0.005 for both), and independent of the effects of low pepsinogen I/II ratio (a marker of gastric fundic atrophy) and Helicobacter pylori infection. The significance of these associations remained even for individuals developing OSCC up to 10 years after baseline ghrelin measurement, though they become attenuated after 10 years.
Lower baseline concentrations of serum ghrelin were associated with an increase in risk of OSCC. Further studies are needed to confirm this finding in other populations and to explore the role of ghrelin in the aetiology of OSCC.
PMCID: PMC3462270  PMID: 22180062
ghrelin; oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma; atrophy
5.  Short telomere lengths in peripheral blood leukocytes are associated with an increased risk of oral premalignant lesion and oral squamous cell carcinoma 
Cancer  2013;119(24):10.1002/cncr.28367.
Oral premalignant lesions (OPLs) are precursors of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Short telomeres in peripheral blood leukocytes are associated with increased risks of several cancers. However, whether short leukocyte telomere length (LTL) predisposes to OPL and OSCC is unclear.
LTLs were measured in PBLs of 266 patients with OPL (N=174) or OSCC (N=92) at diagnosis and 394 age- and gender-matched control subjects. The association between LTL and OPL or OSCC risk, as well as the interaction of telomere length, cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking on OPL or OSCC risk were analyzed.
The age-adjusted relative LTL was the shortest in OSCC (1.64±0.29), intermediate in OPL (1.75±0.43), and longest in controls (1.82±0.36) (P for trend < 0.001). When dichotomized at the median value in controls, adjusting for age, gender, smoking and alcohol drinking status, the odds ratio (OR) for OPL and OSCC risks associated with short LTL was 2.03 (95% CI = 1.29–3.21) and 3.47 (95% CI = 1.84–6.53), respectively, with significant dose-response effects for both associations. Among 174 OPL patients, 23 progressed to OSCC and the mean LTL was shorter than in progressors than non-progressors (1.66±0.35 vs. 1.77±0.44), although the difference did not reach statistical significance (P=0.258) likely due to the small number of progressors. Interaction analysis shows that short LTL, smoking, and alcohol drinking are independent risk factors for OPL and OSCC.
Short LTL is associated with increased risks of developing OPL and OSCC and likely predisposes to the malignant progression of OPL patients.
PMCID: PMC3855186  PMID: 24105340
Telomere length; peripheral blood leukocyte; oral premalignant lesion; oral squamous cell carcinoma; smoking; alcohol drinking
6.  Prospective Study of Serum Cysteine Levels and Oesophageal and Gastric Cancers in China 
Gut  2011;60(5):618-623.
Cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract remain a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Cysteine, known to be involved in a myriad of immuno-modulatory, anti-oxidant, and anti-carcinogenic pathways, has not been investigated in the aetiology of oesophageal or gastric cancers. To examine the relationship between serum cysteine concentration and risk of these cancers we conducted a nested case-cohort study within the General Population Nutrition Intervention Trial in Linxian, China.
498 oesophageal squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) and 255 gastric cardia adenocarcinomas (GCA) were matched by age and sex to 947 individuals from the wider cohort. We calculated hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) using the case-cohort estimator for the Cox proportional hazards models, stratified on age and sex, with adjustment for potential confounders.
Higher concentrations of serum cysteine were significantly associated with a lower risk of both OSCC and GCA. For those in the highest quartile of serum cysteine, compared to those in the lowest, the multivariate HRs were 0.70 for OSCC (95% CI: 0.51, 0.98) and 0.59 for GCA (95% CI: 0.38, 0.91). These associations were dose dependent (P for trend = 0.006 and 0.008, respectively). These inverse associations were not significantly modified by other risk factors, with the exception of age, where a stronger association was noted among persons in the older age strata.
Higher serum concentrations of cysteine were associated with a significantly reduced risk of OSCC and GCA. Cysteine should be further investigated for its potential as a chemopreventive agent for upper gastrointestinal cancers.
PMCID: PMC3428021  PMID: 21242262
oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma; gastric cardia cancer; hazard ratio; cysteine
7.  A history of allergies is associated with reduced risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2012;23(12):1911-1919.
A history of allergies is associated with a decreased risk of several types of cancers. Potential mechanisms include enhanced immune surveillance against tumor cells early in disease development and/or carcinogenic infectious agents. We tested whether allergies are inversely associated with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), accounting for factors that may modify the association, such as tumor site, stage, and HPV infection.
We estimated odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the association between allergy history (including different types of allergies) and OSCC, adjusted for potential confounders, among 400 cases and 613 controls. Analyses were also stratified by site, stage, and measures of HPV infection.
We observed a weak inverse association between history of any allergy and OSCC (OR=0.81, 95% CI, 0.61–1.08). This association was present only for allergies to airborne allergens (dust/pollen/mold); OR=0.67; 95% CI, 0.48–0.93. The inverse associations with airborne allergies were slightly stronger for oropharyngeal SCC (OR=0.56; 95% CI, 0.35–0.90) than for oral cavity SCC (OR=0.71; 95% CI, 0.49–1.05), and present only for later stage cancers (OR=0.42; 95% CI, 0.26–0.66) as opposed to earlier stage cancers (OR=0.98; 95% CI, 0.66–1.46). Inverse associations were not particularly present or stronger among HPV-16 seropositive individuals or for HPV DNA positive OSCC.
There is an inverse association between history of allergies to dust, pollen or mold and OSCC. Whether the inverse association involves heightened immune surveillance, increased immune response to HPV or other antigen, or other carcinogenic mechanism, remains to be determined in more definitive studies.
PMCID: PMC3499679  PMID: 23011537
allergies; oral squamous cell carcinoma; HPV; HSV
8.  Oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma may develop within a background of accumulating DNA methylation in normal and dysplastic mucosa 
Gut  2006;56(1):13-19.
Oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) often arises from preceding dysplastic lesions in the oesophageal epithelium. However, the molecular changes occurring in premalignant lesions are not well understood. An epigenetic change is an example of OSCC that may occur within the epithelium.
To investigate the methylation status of multiple promoters in cancer‐derived DNA, as well as in the background epithelium of OSCC, including dysplastic lesions and non‐neoplastic mucosa. The normal epithelium from patients without cancer was also examined. The findings were correlated with the mutational status of p53.
Patients and methods
56 patients with advanced OSCC, 21 patients with intraepithelial neoplasia (IEN), 56 patients with a background of non‐neoplastic epithelium, adjacent to the OSCC, and 42 normal control epithelia from healthy volunteers were studied. The promoter methylation status of SFRP1, SFRP2, DCC, APC, p16INK4a, p14ARF, MINT1, MINT2, MINT31, CACNA1G, COX2, DAPK, hMLH1 and MGMT was examined by methylation‐specific single polymerase chain reaction or combined bisulphite restriction analysis. The mutation of p53 by direct sequencing was assessed.
DNA methylation was observed in OSCC and in its background epithelium. The frequency of CpG island methylation increased from a baseline level in the background non‐neoplastic epithelium, through IEN, to advanced OSCC. However, mutations in p53 were almost exclusively observed in IEN and OSCC. More extensive DNA methylation was seen in the neoplastic lesions (OSCC or IEN) having a p53 mutation than in those with wild‐type p53.
DNA methylation is present at low levels in the non‐neoplastic oesophageal epithelium and appears to contribute to the progression of the dysplasia–carcinoma sequence in OSCC carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC1856655  PMID: 16785283
9.  Clinicopathological and prognostic implications of genetic alterations in oral cancers 
Oncology Letters  2011;2(3):445-451.
This study evaluated the clinicopathological and prognostic implications of genetic alterations characterizing oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Comparative genomic hybridization was used to identify chromosomal alterations present in primary OSCCs obtained from 97 patients. In this population, tobacco use was a significant risk factor for OSCC. By contrast, the 97 samples were negative for human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA integration, another known risk factor for OSCC in certain populations. Results of the Fisher’s exact test, followed by the Benjamini-Hochberg correction for multiple testing, showed a correlation of 7p gain and 8p loss with node-positive OSCC (p≤0.04 for both genetic alterations) and an association of 11q13 gain with high-grade OSCC (p≤0.05). Univariate Cox-proportional hazard models, also corrected for multiple testing, showed a significant association of 11q13 gain and 18q loss with decreased survival (p≤0.05). The findings were supported by multivariate analysis, which revealed that 11q13 gain and 18q loss together serve as a strong bivariate predictor of poor prognosis. In conclusion, our study identified genetic alterations that correlate significantly with nodal status, grade and the poor survival status of OSCC. These potential biomarkers may aid the current tumor node metastasis system for better prediction of clinical outcome.
PMCID: PMC3085881  PMID: 21546976
oral cancer; comparative genomic hybridization; prognosis; survival analysis; gain of 11q13; loss of 18q
10.  Clinicopathological and prognostic implications of genetic alterations in oral cancers 
Oncology letters  2011;2(3):445-451.
This study evaluated the clinicopathological and prognostic implications of genetic alterations characterizing oral squamous cell carcinoma(OSCC). Comparative genomic hybridization(CGH) was used to identify chromosomal alterations present in primary OSCCs obtained from 97 pateints. In this population, tobacco use was a significant risk factor for OSCC. By contrast, all 97 of our samples are negative for human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA integration, which is another known risk factor for OSCC in certain populations. Results of the Fisher’s exact test followed by Benjamini-Hochberg correction for multiple testing, showed a correlation of 7p gain and 8p loss with node-positive OSCC (p≤0.04 for both genetic alterations) and association of 11q13 gain with high-grade OSCC (p≤0.05). Univariate Cox-proportional hazard models, also corrected for multiple testing, showed significant association of 11q13 gain and 18q loss with decreased survival (p≤0.05). These findings were supported by multivariate analysis which revealed that 11q13 gain and 18q loss together serve as a strong bivariate predictor of poor prognosis. In conclusion, our study has identified genetic alterations that correlate significantly with nodal status, grade, and poor survival status of OSCC. These potential biomarkers may aid the current TNM system for better prediction of clinical outcome.
PMCID: PMC3085881  PMID: 21546976
Oral cancer; CGH; prognosis; survival analysis; gain of 11q13; loss of 18q
11.  Elevated plasma level of visfatin/pre-b cell colony-enhancing factor in male oral squamous cell carcinoma patients 
Objectives: Visfatin, also known as nicotiamide phosphoribosyltransferase or pre-B cell colony enhancing factor, is a pro-inflammatory cytokine whose serum level is increased in various cancers. In this study, we investigated whether plasma visfatin levels were altered in patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). The relationship between plasma visfatin levels and the pretreatment hematologic profile was also explored. Study Design: Plasma visfatin concentrations were measured through ELISA in OSCC patients and control subjects. A total of 51 patients with OSCC and 57 age- and body mass index (BMI)-matched control subjects were studied. All study subjects were male. Results: Plasma visfatin was found to be elevated in patients with OSCC (7.0 ± 4.5 vs. 4.8 ± 1.9 ng/ml, p = 0.002). Multiple logistic regression analysis revealed visfatin as an independent association factor for OSCC, even after full adjustment of known biomarkers. Visfatin level was significantly correlated with white blood cell (WBC) count, neutrophil count, and hematocrit (all p < 0.05). In addition, WBC count, neutrophil count, and visfatin gradually increased with stage progression, and hematocrit gradually decreased with stage progression (all p < 0.05). Conclusion: Increased plasma visfatin levels were associated with OSCC, independent of risk factors, and were correlated with inflammatory biomarkers. These data suggest that visfatin may act through inflammatory reactions to play an important role in the pathogenesis of OSCC.
Key words:Visfatin; oral squamous cell carcinomas; white blood cell count; neutrophil count.
PMCID: PMC3613867  PMID: 23229270
12.  Association of a Deletion of GSTT2B with an Altered Risk of Oesophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma in a South African Population: A Case-Control Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e29366.
Polymorphisms in the Glutathione S-transferase genes are associated with altered risks in many cancers, but their role in oesophageal cancer is unclear. Recently a 37-kb deletion polymorphism of GSTT2B that reduces expression of GSTT2 has been described. We evaluated the influence of the GSTT1 and GSTT2B deletion polymorphisms, and the GSTP1 Ile105Val polymorphism (rs1695) on susceptibility to oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in the Black and Mixed Ancestry populations of South Africa.
Methods and Results
The GSTT1, GSTT2B and GSTP1 variants were genotyped in 562 OSCC cases and 907 controls, and tested for association with OSCC and for interaction with smoking and alcohol consumption. Linkage disequilibrium (LD) between the deletions at GSTT1 and GSTT2B was determined, and the haplotypes tested for association with OSCC. Neither the GSTT1 deletion nor the GSTP1 Ile105Val polymorphism was associated with OSCC risk in the Black or Mixed Ancestry populations. The GSTT2B deletion was not associated with OSCC risk in the Black population, but was associated with reduced risk of OSCC in the Mixed Ancestry population (OR = 0.71; 95% CI 0.57–0.90, p = 0.004). Case-only analysis showed no interaction between the GST polymorphisms and smoking or alcohol consumption. LD between the neighboring GSTT1 and GSTT2B deletions was low in both populations (r2Black = 0.04; r2MxA = 0.07), thus these deletions should be assessed independently for effects on disease risk.
Although there was no association between the GSTT1 deletion polymorphism or the GSTP1 Ile105Val polymorphism with OSCC, our results suggest that the presence of the recently described GSTT2B deletion may have a protective effect on the risk of OSCC in the Mixed Ancestry South African population. This is the first report of the contribution of the GSTT2B deletion to cancer risk.
PMCID: PMC3246501  PMID: 22216261
13.  Integrative analysis of DNA copy number and gene expression in metastatic oral squamous cell carcinoma identifies genes associated with poor survival 
Molecular Cancer  2010;9:143.
Lymphotropism in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the most important prognostic factors of 5-year survival. In an effort to identify genes that may be responsible for the initiation of OSCC lymphotropism, we examined DNA copy number gains and losses and corresponding gene expression changes from tumor cells in metastatic lymph nodes of patients with OSCC.
We performed integrative analysis of DNA copy number alterations (CNA) and corresponding mRNA expression from OSCC cells isolated from metastatic lymph nodes of 20 patients using Affymetrix 250 K Nsp I SNP and U133 Plus 2.0 arrays, respectively. Overall, genome CNA accounted for expression changes in 31% of the transcripts studied. Genome region 11q13.2-11q13.3 shows the highest correlation between DNA CNA and expression. With a false discovery rate < 1%, 530 transcripts (461 genes) demonstrated a correlation between CNA and expression. Among these, we found two subsets that were significantly associated with OSCC (n = 122) when compared to controls, and with survival (n = 27), as tested using an independent dataset with genome-wide expression profiles for 148 primary OSCC and 45 normal oral mucosa. We fit Cox models to calculate a principal component analysis-derived risk-score for these two gene sets ('122-' or '27-transcript PC'). The models combining the 122- or 27-transcript PC with stage outperformed the model using stage alone in terms of the Area Under the Curve (AUC = 0.82 or 0.86 vs. 0.72, with p = 0.044 or 0.011, respectively).
Genes exhibiting CNA-correlated expression may have biological impact on carcinogenesis and cancer progression in OSCC. Determination of copy number-associated transcripts associated with clinical outcomes in tumor cells with an aggressive phenotype (i.e., cells metastasized to the lymph nodes) can help prioritize candidate transcripts from high-throughput data for further studies.
PMCID: PMC2893102  PMID: 20537188
14.  Distinct genetic association at the PLCE1 locus with oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma in the South African population 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(11):2155-2161.
Oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has a high prevalence in the Black and Mixed Ancestry populations of South Africa. Recently, three genome-wide association studies in Chinese populations identified five new OSCC susceptibility loci, including variants at PLCE1, C20orf54, PDE4D, RUNX1 and UNC5CL, but their contribution to disease risk in other populations is unknown. In this study, we report testing variants from these five loci for association with OSCC in the South African Black (407 cases and 849 controls) and Mixed Ancestry (257 cases and 860 controls) populations. The RUNX1 variant rs2014300, which reduced risk in the Chinese population, was associated with an increased risk of OSCC in the Mixed Ancestry population [odds ratio (OR) = 1.33, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.09–1.63, P = 0.0055], and none of the five loci were associated in the Black population. Since PLCE1 variants increased the risk of OSCC in all three Chinese studies, this gene was investigated further by sequencing in 46 Black South Africans. This revealed 48 variants, 10 of which resulted in amino acid substitutions, and much lower linkage disequilibrium across the PLCE1 locus than in the Chinese population. We genotyped five PLCE1 variants in cases and controls, and found association of Arg548Leu (rs17417407) with a reduced risk of OSCC (OR = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.60–0.93, P = 0.008) in the Black population. These findings indicate several differences in the genetic contribution to OSCC between the South African and Chinese populations that may be related to differences in their genetic architecture.
PMCID: PMC3584964  PMID: 22865593
15.  Histological precursors of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma: results from a 13 year prospective follow up study in a high risk population 
Gut  2005;54(2):187-192.
Background: Oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) has a very poor prognosis, which is largely due to late diagnosis. Successful early detection strategies will require identification of clinically relevant precursor lesions that can be targets for screening and treatment.
Aims: To identify the clinically relevant histological precursors of OSCC.
Subjects: A cohort of 682 endoscoped patients from a high risk rural population in Linxian, China.
Methods: Subjects were endoscoped and biopsied at baseline and followed for 13.5 years. We estimated the relative risk of developing OSCC for each of the initial histological diagnoses using Cox proportional hazards regression models.
Results: A total of 114 (16.7%) patients developed OSCC during the follow up period. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, relative risks (95% confidence intervals) for incidence of this tumour, by initial histological diagnosis, were: normal 1.0 (reference), oesophagitis 0.8 (0.2–3.2), basal cell hyperplasia 1.9 (0.8–4.5), mild dysplasia 2.9 (1.6–5.2), moderate dysplasia 9.8 (5.3–18.3), severe dysplasia 28.3 (15.3–52.3), and carcinoma in situ 34.4 (16.6–71.4).
Conclusions: In this study, squamous dysplasia and carcinoma in situ were the only histological lesions associated with a significantly increased risk of developing OSCC within 13.5 years after endoscopy. There was no evidence that oesophagitis predisposed to this tumour. Increasing grades of dysplasia were strongly associated with increasing risk, indicating that the histological grading was clinically meaningful. The follow up experience of severe dysplasia and carcinoma in situ was equivalent, suggesting that this distinction is not clinically relevant. Documenting these precursor lesions of OSCC should assist in the development of effective prevention, early detection, and treatment strategies for this disease.
PMCID: PMC1774842  PMID: 15647178
oesophageal cancer; precursor lesions; squamous dysplasia; China; follow up study
16.  The 2G allele of promoter region of Matrix metalloproteinase-1 as an essential pre-condition for the early onset of oral squamous cell carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:187.
Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) is known to be involved in the initial and progressive stages of cancer development, and in the aggressive phenotypes of cancer. This study examines the association of single nucleotide polymorphisms in promoter regions of MMP-1 and MMP-3 with susceptibility to oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).
We compared 170 Japanese OSCC cases and 164 healthy controls for genotypes of MMP-1 and MMP-3.
The frequency of the MMP-1 2G allele was higher and that of the 1G homozygote was lower in the OSCC cases (p = 0.034). A multivariate logistic regression analysis revealed that subjects who were 45 years old or older had a significantly increased (2.47-fold) risk of OSCC (95%CI 1.47–4.14, p = 0.0006), and those carrying the MMP-1 2G allele had a 2.30-fold risk (95%CI 1.15–4.58, p = 0.018), indicating independent involvement of these factors in OSCC. One of the key discoveries of this research is the apparent reduction of the MMP-1 1G/1G and 1G/2G genotype distributions among the early onset OSCC cases under the ages of 45 years. It should be noted that the tongue was the primary site in 86.2% of these early onset cases. This could suggest the specific carcinogenic mechanisms, i.e. specific carcinogenic stimulations and/or genetic factors in the tongue.
Since the 2G allele is a majority of the MMP-1 genotype in the general population, it seems to act as a genetic pre-condition in OSCC development. However this report suggests a crucial impact of the MMP-1 2G allele in the early onset OSCC.
PMCID: PMC2089080  PMID: 17919326
17.  Interaction between Alcohol Consumption and CYP 2C19 Gene Polymorphism in Relation to Oesophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e43412.
The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between the interactions of CYP2C19 gene polymorphisms and several environmental factors and oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).
In a case-control study of OSCC patients (n = 350) and healthy controls (n = 350), we investigated the roles of polymorphism in the CYP2C19 gene by the use of polymerase chain reaction - restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR – RFLP) analysis.
The CYP2C19*3 AG+AA genotype was significantly more prevalent in OSCC patients (10.0% versus 3.43%; P<0.01). Multiple logistic regression analysis showed drinking (OR: 5.603, 95% CI: 3.431–11.112; P = 0.005) and smoking (OR: 4.341, 95% CI: 3.425–10.241; P = 0.001) was the independent risk factor of OSCC respectively, and there were significant interaction between CYP2C19*3 and drinking (OR: 8.747, 95% CI: 6.321–18.122; P = 0.009).
The CYP2C19*3 polymorphism and OSCC were synergistically and significantly associated in Chinese Han patients.
PMCID: PMC3439450  PMID: 22984423
18.  The 341C/T polymorphism in the GSTP1 gene is associated with increased risk of oesophageal cancer 
BMC Genetics  2010;11:47.
The Glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) comprise a group of enzymes that are critical in the detoxification of carcinogens. In this study the effects of polymorphisms in these genes on the risk of developing oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) were evaluated in a hospital-based case-control study in two South African population groups. Genetic polymorphisms in GSTs were investigated in 245 patients and 288 controls samples by PCR-RFLP analysis.
The GSTP1 341T variant was associated with significantly increased risk of developing OSCC as observed from the odds ratios for the GSTP1 341C/T and GSTP1 341T/T genotypes (OR = 4.98; 95%CI 3.05-8.11 and OR = 10.9; 95%CI 2.43-49.1, respectively) when compared to the homozygous GSTP1 341C/C genotype. The risk for OSCC in the combined GSTP1 341C/T and T/T genotypes was higher in tobacco smokers (OR = 7.51, 95% CI 3.82-14.7), alcohol consumers (OR = 15.3, 95% CI 1.81-12.9) and those using wood or charcoal for cooking and heating (OR = 12.1, 95% CI 3.26-49) when compared to those who did not smoke tobacco, or did not consume alcohol or user other forms of fuel for cooking and heating. Despite the close proximity of the two GSTP1 SNPs (313A>G and 341C>T), they were not in linkage disequilibrium in these two population groups (D':1.0, LOD: 0.52, r2: 0.225). The GSTP1 313A/G polymorphism on the other hand, did not display any association with OSSC. The homozygous GSTT1*0 genotype was associated with increased risk of OSCC (OR = 1.71, 95%CI 1.18-2.46) while the homozygous GSTM1*0 genotype was associated with significantly decreased risk of OSCC in the Mixed Ancestry subjects (OR= 0.39, 95%CI 0.25-0.62).
This study shows that the risk of developing OSCC in the South African population can be partly explained by genetic polymorphisms in GST coding genes and their interaction with environmental factors such as tobacco smoke and alcohol consumption.
PMCID: PMC2891604  PMID: 20540773
19.  P53 gene codon 72 polymorphism in patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma in the population of northern Iran 
Objectives: Squamous cell carcinoma is the most common cancer of the oral cavity, and several etiologic factors are involved in its development. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of the P53 gene codon 72 (P53c72) changes the structure of the protein and affects its activity. The prevalence of P53c72 different genotypes, which seems to vary with race and geographic location, has shown a strong correlation with many types of human cancers. The aim of this study was to investigate the correlation between P53c72 polymorphism and risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in the heavily populated Gilan Province in northern Iran. Design of Study: This case-control study was done on 55 paraffin-embedded samples from OSCC patients and 100 samples of non-dysplastic oral cavity lesions. The P53c72 genotypes were determined using the ARMS-PCR method. SPSS-15 software was used for statistical analysis. Results: There were no significant statistical differences found between the prevalence of different P53c72 genotypes in the OSCC group vs. the control. However, the Pro/Pro genotype in OSCC samples showed a strong correlation with age, as 70% of such patients were below 50 years old. Interestingly, a large portion (40%) of the patients with the Pro/Pro genotype had the tumor in the lip area. Conclusions: Although P53c72 polymorphism does not appear to be a predisposing factor for OSCC in the population of Northern Iran, the Pro/Pro genotype could be considered as a risk factor for OSCC in adults below 50 years old and the anatomical location of the tumor.
Key words:OSCC, P53 codon 72 polymorphism, northern Iran.
PMCID: PMC4259369  PMID: 24880450
20.  The salivary microbiota as a diagnostic indicator of oral cancer: A descriptive, non-randomized study of cancer-free and oral squamous cell carcinoma subjects 
The purpose of the present investigation was to determine if the salivary counts of 40 common oral bacteria in subjects with an oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) lesion would differ from those found in cancer-free (OSCC-free) controls.
Unstimulated saliva samples were collected from 229 OSCC-free and 45 OSCC subjects and evaluated for their content of 40 common oral bacteria using checkerboard DNA-DNA hybridization. DNA counts per ml saliva were determined for each species, averaged across subjects in the 2 subject groups, and significance of differences between groups determined using the Mann-Whitney test and adjusted for multiple comparisons. Diagnostic sensitivity and specificity in detection of OSCC by levels of salivary organisms were computed and comparisons made separately between a non-matched group of 45 OSCC subjects and 229 controls and a group of 45 OSCC subjects and 45 controls matched by age, gender and smoking history.
Counts of 3 of the 40 species tested, Capnocytophaga gingivalis, Prevotella melaninogenica and Streptococcus mitis, were elevated in the saliva of individuals with OSCC (p < 0.001). When tested as diagnostic markers the 3 species were found to predict 80% of cancer cases (sensitivity) while excluding 83% of controls (specificity) in the non-matched group. Diagnostic sensitivity and specificity in the matched group were 80% and 82% respectively.
High salivary counts of C. gingivalis, P. melaninogenica and S. mitis may be diagnostic indicators of OSCC.
PMCID: PMC1226180  PMID: 15987522
Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma; Oral mucosa; bacterial markers; bacteria; early detection
21.  Human Papillomavirus as an Independent Predictor in Oral Squamous Cell Cancer 
There is an increasing evidence for the role of high risk human papillomavirus (HPV) in the pathogenesis of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the relevance of HPV infection to the survival and prognosis of OSCC.
Fifty-two patients with OSCC were followed from 4 to 88 months with a median of 50.7 months. HPV DNA was identified in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor specimens by nested PCR with MY09/MY11 and GP5+/GP6+ primer pairs and the HPV genotype was determined by direct DNA sequencing. Association between the HPV status and risk factors for cancer as well as tumor-host characteristics were analyzed. Survival curves were calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method and analyzed using the log-rank test.
HPV was found in 40.4% of the tumors with HPV16 accounting for 63.5%, HPV18 for 30.8%, HPV6 for 3.9% and HPV11 for 1.8%. No infection with more than one HPV genotype was detected. HPV infection was significantly associated with poor histological grade, TNM stage I–II, alcohol usage and no smoking status. Multi-variate analysis showed that HPV had an independent prognostic effect on the overall survival after adjusting other confounding factors such as histological grade, TNM stage and tobacco usage. The presence of HPV was significantly correlated with a better survival in patients with OSCC.
HPV infection can act as an independent predictor for the survival and prognosis of OSCC.
PMCID: PMC3475584  PMID: 20695077
human papillomavirus (HPV); oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC); survival analysis
22.  Integrative Genomics in Combination with RNA Interference Identifies Prognostic and Functionally Relevant Gene Targets for Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(1):e1003169.
In oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), metastasis to lymph nodes is associated with a 50% reduction in 5-year survival. To identify a metastatic gene set based on DNA copy number abnormalities (CNAs) of differentially expressed genes, we compared DNA and RNA of OSCC cells laser-microdissected from non-metastatic primary tumors (n = 17) with those from lymph node metastases (n = 20), using Affymetrix 250K Nsp single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays and U133 Plus 2.0 arrays, respectively. With a false discovery rate (FDR)<5%, 1988 transcripts were found to be differentially expressed between primary and metastatic OSCC. Of these, 114 were found to have a significant correlation between DNA copy number and gene expression (FDR<0.01). Among these 114 correlated transcripts, the corresponding genomic regions of each of 95 transcripts had CNAs differences between primary and metastatic OSCC (FDR<0.01). Using an independent dataset of 133 patients, multivariable analysis showed that the OSCC–specific and overall mortality hazards ratio (HR) for patients carrying the 95-transcript signature were 4.75 (95% CI: 2.03–11.11) and 3.45 (95% CI: 1.84–6.50), respectively. To determine the degree by which these genes impact cell survival, we compared the growth of five OSCC cell lines before and after knockdown of over-amplified transcripts via a high-throughput siRNA–mediated screen. The expression-knockdown of 18 of the 26 genes tested showed a growth suppression ≥30% in at least one cell line (P<0.01). In particular, cell lines derived from late-stage OSCC were more sensitive to the knockdown of G3BP1 than cell lines derived from early-stage OSCC, and the growth suppression was likely caused by increase in apoptosis. Further investigation is warranted to examine the biological role of these genes in OSCC progression and their therapeutic potentials.
Author Summary
Neck lymph node metastasis is the most important prognostic factor in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). To identify genes associated with this critical step of OSCC progression, we compared DNA copy number aberrations and gene expression differences between tumor cells found in metastatic lymph nodes versus those in non-metastatic primary tumors. We identified 95 transcripts (87 genes) with metastasis-specific genome abnormalities and gene expression. Tested in an independent cohort of 133 OSCC patients, the 95 gene signature was an independent risk factor of disease-specific and overall death, suggesting a disease progression phenotype. We knocked down the expression of over-amplified genes in five OSCC cell lines. Knockdown of 18 of the 26 tested genes suppressed the cell growth in at least one cell line. Interestingly, cell lines derived from late-stage OSCC were more sensitive to the knockdown of G3BP1 than cell lines derived from early-stage OSCC. The knockdown of G3BP1 increased programmed cell death in the p53-mutant but not wild-type OSCC cell lines. Taken together, we demonstrate that CNA–associated transcripts differentially expressed in carcinoma cells with an aggressive phenotype (i.e., metastatic to lymph nodes) can be biomarkers with both prognostic information and functional relevance. Moreover, results suggest that G3BP1 is a potential therapeutic target against late-stage p53-negative OSCC.
PMCID: PMC3547824  PMID: 23341773
23.  NANOG expression correlates with differentiation, metastasis and resistance to preoperative adjuvant therapy in oral squamous cell carcinoma 
Oncology Letters  2013;7(1):35-40.
NANOG protein, a transcription factor expressed in embryonic stem cells, is overexpressed in tumor development. Although studies investigating the function of NANOG in cancer have shown that it plays several roles, such as in cell proliferation, invasion and metastasis, the overall function of NANOG in cancer cells has remained elusive. In the present study, NANOG expression in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) was examined to determine its potential clinical significance. The expression of NANOG protein was assessed in 60 patients with OSCC by immunohistochemistry, and its correlation with clinicopathological factors and metastasis was evaluated. NANOG protein levels in human OSCC cell lines were determined by western blotting and immunofluorescence staining. NANOG protein expression was identified in 52 cases (86.7%) and expression levels were higher in primary foci of poorly differentiated OSCC than in those of well-differentiated OSCC, indicating that NANOG expression is associated with OSCC differentiation. Regardless of the differentiation levels of primary foci, NANOG expression levels in metastatic foci were extremely high. In addition, NANOG expression in metastatic foci was maintained at high levels following preoperative adjuvant therapy. Furthermore, NANOG protein was detected at an identical level in human OSCC cell lines. These data indicate that NANOG-expressing OSCC cells tend to metastasize and that metastatic tumors expressing NANOG may be resistant to preoperative adjuvant therapy, including chemoradiation. Thus, assessment of NANOG expression may assist the strategy for treatment of OSCC metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3861537  PMID: 24348816
oral squamous cell carcinoma; NANOG; differentiation; metastasis; preoperative adjuvant therapy
24.  Clinical significance of gelsolin-like actin-capping protein expression in oral carcinogenesis: an immunohistochemical study of premalignant and malignant lesions of the oral cavity 
BMC Cancer  2008;8:39.
Gelsolin-like actin-capping protein (CapG) is a ubiquitous gelsolin-family actin-modulating protein involved in cell signalling, receptor-mediated membrane ruffling, phagocytosis, and motility. CapG has generated great interest due to its oncogenic function in the control of cell migration or invasion in a variety of cancer cells. We previously applied proteomic methods to characterize differentially expressed proteins in oral squamous-cell carcinoma (OSCC) cells and detected significantly high expression levels of CapG in OSCC-derived cell lines compared to human normal oral keratinocytes. In the current study, to further determine the potential involvement of CapG in OSCC, we evaluated the status of CapG protein and mRNA expression in human oral premalignant lesions (OPLs) and primary OSCCs and correlated the results with clinicopathologic variables.
Matched normal and tumour tissue sections of 79 human primary OSCCs and 28 OPLs were analyzed for CapG expression by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Correlations between CapG-immunohistochemical staining scores of OSCCs and clinicopathologic features were evaluated by Fisher's exact test. Real-time quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) was used to estimate CapG expression at the mRNA level.
In IHC, substantial up-regulation of CapG protein was observed in primary OSCCs (52%) and OPLs (64%), whereas corresponding normal tissues showed consistently weak or absent immunoreactivity of CapG. qRT-PCR data were consistent with the protein expression status. Moreover, CapG expression was correlated with the TNM stage grading of OSCCs.
Our finding of frequent dysregulated expression of CapG in premalignant and malignant lesions together with an association with an advanced clinical disease stage suggests that CapG could contribute to cancer development and progression and that CapG may have potential as a biomarker and a therapeutic target for OSCC.
PMCID: PMC2263057  PMID: 18237446
25.  Population-specific genetic associations with oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma in South Africa 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(12):1855-1861.
Genetic variants in multiple cellular pathways have been associated with an altered risk of oesophageal cancer. In this study, eight genes previously associated with an altered risk of oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) in European or Asian populations were investigated in two South African populations. We genotyped 12 single-nucleotide polymorphisms and one insertion/deletion variant in 1463 individuals from the Black and Mixed Ancestry populations. No polymorphisms were associated with OSCC in the Black population. In the Mixed Ancestry population, ALDH2 +82 G > A (rs886205) was significantly associated with a reduced risk of OSCC (odds ratio = 0.70, 95% confidence interval = 0.55–0.89; P = 0.0038). Several other polymorphisms showed a suggestive association (P < 0.05), including ADH1B Arg48His (rs1229984), COX-2 −1195G > A (rs689466), CASP8 Asp302His (rs1045485) and MGMT Leu84Phe (rs12917). Haplotype analysis indicated that the FAS polymorphisms −670 A > G (rs1800682) and −1377 G > A (rs2234767) were both associated with OSCC in the Mixed Ancestry population (P = 0.006 and P = 0.004, respectively), as well as the CASP8 (−652 6Ndel:302His) haplotype (P = 0.0013). This study indicates several instances of population-specific differences in the genetic etiology of OSCC between these two South African populations and between them and other high-risk populations, which may reflect differences in their ancestry and environmental exposures.
PMCID: PMC3220606  PMID: 21926110

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