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Oral squamous cell carcinoma: status of tight junction claudins in the different histopathological patterns and relationship with clinical parameters. A tissue-microarray-based study of 136 cases
  1. Silvia V Lourenço1,2,3,
  2. Cláudia M Coutinho-Camillo4,
  3. Marcilei E C Buim4,
  4. Cláudia M Pereira4,
  5. André L Carvalho5,
  6. Luiz P Kowalski4,
  7. Fernando A Soares1,4
  1. 1Department of General Pathology, Dental School, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  2. 2Laboratory of Immunopathology, Tropical Medicine Institute, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  3. 3Department of Dermatology, Medical School, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
  4. 4Department of Surgical Pathology, Hospital A C Camargo, São Paulo, Brazil
  5. 5Department of Head and Neck Surgery, Hospital do Câncer de Barretos, Barretos, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Silvia Vanessa Lourenço, Disciplina de Patologia Geral, Departamento de Estomatologia, Faculdade de Odontologia da USP, Av Professor Lineu Prestes, 2227, Cidade Universitária, São Paulo, CEP 05508-000, Brazil; silvialourenco.70{at}


Aims Claudins are integral transmembrane proteins of the tight junctions, critical for maintaining cell adhesion and polarity. Alterations in the expression of individual claudins have been detected in carcinomas and appear to correlate with tumour progression.

Methods In this study, a panel of anti-claudin antibodies (anti-claudins 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7) was employed to map claudin expression in 136 cases of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) organised in a tissue microarray.

Results Claudins were expressed in a reticular pattern up to the prickle layer in normal mucosal epithelium. In OSCC, claudins were strongly present in well-differentiated tumours, they presented mild and low expression in moderately differentiated OSCC, and were negative in poorly differentiated OSCC; the absences of claudin 1 (p=0.002) and claudin 4 (p<0.001) were associated with moderately/poorly differentiated tumours. Strong expression of claudin 4 was associated with decreased perineural infiltration (p=0.024). Claudins 5 and 7 were mostly negative or weakly expressed in all cases studied. Expression of claudin 7 was associated with the early clinical stages of the disease, whereas loss of claudin 7 tended to be more frequent in advanced stages of OSCC (p=0.054). Absence of claudin 7 was also associated with absent vascular infiltration (p=0.045) and with presence of recurrence (p=0.052).

Conclusions Claudin expression patterns showed a strong correlation with histological type of OSCC; claudin expression was decreased in areas of invasion, and negative in poorly differentiated tumours. This pattern may be related to evolution and prognosis of these tumours, especially in the case of claudin 7, which seems to be associated with a poor prognosis in OSCC.

  • Cancer research
  • cell adhesion
  • claudins
  • molecules
  • oral
  • oral pathology
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • tissue microarray

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  • Funding Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo: FAPESP CEPID 98/14335-2 and 06/61599-3.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of São Paulo.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.