Aims Cancer of the major salivary glands comprises a morphologically diverse group of rare tumours of largely unknown cause. Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been shown to play a significant prognostic role in various human cancers. The aim was to assess the expression of EMT markers in different histological subtypes of parotid gland cancer (PGC) and analyse their prognostic value.
Methods We examined 94 PGC samples (13 histological subtypes) for the expression of MIB-1, epithelial cadherin (E-cadherin), β-catenin, vimentin and cytokeratin 8/18 (CK8/18) by means of immunohistochemistry. The experimental findings were correlated with clinicopathological and survival parameters.
Results We detected all analysed EMT and proliferation markers in specifically different constellations within the examined histological subtypes of PGC. We found high epithelial marker expressions (CK8/18, E-cadherin, membranous β-catenin) only in a distinct variety of carcinomas. A high proliferation rate (high MIB-1 expression) as well as a combination of high CK8/18 and low vimentin expression was associated with a significantly worse survival.
Conclusions Our findings indicate that activation of the EMT pathway is a relevant explanation for tumour progression in individual histological subtypes of malignant parotid gland lesions, but by far not in all. Evidence of EMT activation in PGC cannot be seen as an isolated prognostic factor.
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IG and MS contributed equally.
Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. The last sentence of the ‘Introduction’ was corrected.
Handling editor Cheok Soon Lee
Contributors All authors named in the title page have contributed to, read and approved the final version of the manuscript for submission. Primary data collection (otorhinolaryngology data): AB. Primary data collection (pathology data): AB and LB. Evaluation of primary data: AB, IG and MS. Experimental studies: AB, LB, IG and MS. Statistical analysis, writing of the article, revision of draft paper: AB, IG and MS. Final correction and proof reading: AB, LB, EW, CR, IG and MS.
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval Ethics committee of the local medical association and University of Münster (Ethik-Kommission der Ärztekammer Westfalen-Lippe und der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster, No. 2012-370-f-S).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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