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Analytical Cellular Pathology
Volume 16 (1998), Issue 3, Pages 177-184

In situ Apoptotic and Proliferation Index in Laryngeal Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Hjalmar G. Hagedorn,1,2 Jutta Tübel,2 Irmgard Wiest,2 and Andreas G. Nerlich2

1Department of ENT‐Diseases and Head and Neck Surgery, University of Munich, Klinikum Großhadern, Marchioninistr. 15, D‐81377 München, Germany
2Institute for Pathology, University of Munich, Thalkirchnerstr. 36, D‐80337 München, Germany

Received 25 July 1997; Accepted 26 February 1998

Copyright © 1998 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The rate of cellular growth is mainly influenced by the balance between cell proliferation and cellular decay. Since to our knowledge, no study so far has analysed the rate of proliferation and apoptosis in the normal laryngeal mucosa and in invasive laryngeal carcinomas, we performed a morphological analysis on both parameters in biopsies from 30 patients with laryngeal carcinoma. We applied the TUNEL end labelling technique for the investigation of apoptosis and immunohistochemistry (Ki‐67 antigen) for the determination of the cell proliferation.

In our study we demonstrated that invasive tumour growth of the larynx coincides with an increase of both cellular proliferation and apoptosis. Both parameters, however, affected various tumour areas differently. While there was a preferential expression of the Ki‐67 antigen at the tumour–stroma interface, apoptotic figures could be found randomly distributed in the tumour. This indicates that the replication of tumour cells and tumour cell decay are differently distributed and possibly independently regulated. Since we observed a particularly strong increase of cell proliferation at the tumour–stroma interface which outnumbered the corresponding rate of apoptosis by far, the enhanced cell proliferation at the tumour border seems to be a main factor for tumour growth.

A statistical evaluation revealed significant correlation between the apoptotic index and the degree of tumour cell differentiation, indicating that a high rate of apoptosis coincides with a high level of tumour cell differentiation.

There was, however, no statistically significant correlation between prognostic clinical parameters and the rate of apoptosis or that of proliferation.