Ionotropic glutamate receptors of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) type are expressed on keratinocytes and play a role in the proliferation, differentiation, and cornification of keratinocytes. However, the expression profile of NMDAR and its role in cutaneous malignancy is unclear.
We analyzed the expression of NMDAR-1 in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and investigated the relationship between NMDAR-1 expression and clinicopathological parameters.
Thirty-two patients with biopsy-proven cutaneous SCC were enrolled in this study. Each patient was analyzed for tumor diameter, location, local recurrence, and metastasis by conducting a chart review. The SCC specimens were histologically divided into differentiated and undifferentiated groups based on Broders' system. NMDAR-1 expression was examined by performing immunohistochemistry, and the relative staining intensity in the SCCs was graded into 5 levels. According to the staining intensity of NMDAR-1, the specimens were categorized into two groups: the higher group and the lower group.
Fifteen (88%) of 17 tumors in the higher group were differentiated SCC, whereas 14 (93%) of 15 tumors in the lower group were undifferentiated SCC. In addition, NMDAR-1 expression was inversely correlated with metastasis (p=0.049). Local recurrence was associated with a lower staining intensity, but the results were not statistically significant.
Our results demonstrate that NMDAR-1 expression in cutaneous SCC is significantly correlated with its differentiation and metastasis. Therefore, it may be a prognostic indicator for cutaneous SCC.