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Versican expression in pharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma: an immunohistochemical study
  1. M J Pukkila1,
  2. A S T Kosunen1,
  3. J A Virtaniemi1,
  4. E J Kumpulainen2,
  5. R T Johansson2,
  6. J K Kellokoski1,
  7. J Nuutinen1,
  8. V-M Kosma2,3,4
  1. 1Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Kuopio, Kuopio University Hospital, PO Box 1777, FIN-70211, Kuopio, Finland
  2. 2Department of Oncology, University of Kuopio, Kuopio University Hospital
  3. 3Department of Pathology and Forensic Medicine, University of Kuopio, Kuopio University Hospital, PO Box 1627, FIN-70211, Kuopio, Finland
  4. 4Department of Pathology, University of Tampere, Tampere University Hospital, PO Box 2000, FIN-33521 Tampere, Finland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Pukkila
 Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Kuopio, Kuopio University Hospital, PO Box 1777, FIN-70211, Kuopio, Finland;


Aims: To study the expression of versican, a large proteoglycan involved in repressing adhesion between cells and the extracellular matrix in pharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (PSCC), and its relation to the expression of p53 and catenins, histological differentiation, clinical data, and prognosis.

Methods: For the retrospective survey, primary tumours for analyses were obtained from 118 patients diagnosed with PSCC of the oropharynx or hypopharynx. The immunohistochemical expression of versican was studied and was related to the expression pattern of p53 and catenins, in addition to clinical data and survival.

Results: In the primary tumours, strong stromal versican expression was graded as low in 59 (50%) and high in 59 (50%) cases. In addition, intracellular versican staining was seen in nine (8%) tumours. In local lymph node metastases, strong stromal versican staining was significantly more frequent compared with the primary tumours (p  =  0.018). Strong stromal versican staining was more frequently seen in less advanced tumours (p  =  0.015). There was no association between versican expression and the other investigated variables (p53, catenins, TNM status, and histological grade). Neither stromal nor intracellular versican expression predicted overall survival in these patients.

Conclusions: Versican was more strongly expressed in the stroma of local metastases and in the earlier stages of disease in PSCC. However, versican expression was not an independent prognostic factor in this entity.

  • ECM, extracellular matrix
  • GAG, glycosaminoglycan
  • HA, hyaluronan
  • H&E, haematoxylin and eosin
  • HNC, head and neck cancer
  • IHC, immunohistochemistry
  • OS, overall survival
  • PBS, phosphate buffered saline
  • PSCC, pharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma
  • SCC, squamous cell carcinoma
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • pharynx
  • versican
  • p53
  • prognosis

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