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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 948264, 13 pages
Research Article

Beta-Catenin and Epithelial Tumors: A Study Based on 374 Oropharyngeal Cancers

1Department of Laboratory Medicine, Institute of Pathological Anatomy, Foundation for Research and Therapy “Giovanni Paolo II”, UCSC, 86100 Campobasso, Italy
2Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Section of Pathological Anatomy, University of Foggia, 71121 Foggia, Italy
3Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery and Oncology, Medical School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
4Department of Pathology, Medical School, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA
5Department of Economic Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, University of Foggia, 71122 Foggia, Italy
6Laboratory of Preclinical and Translational Research, IRCCS-CROB, Oncological Reference Centre of Basilicata, 85028 Rionero in Vulture, Italy
7Institute of Biochemistry, SUN, 80100 Napoli, Italy
8Section of Pathological Anatomy, Polytechnic University of Marche, 60100 Ancona, Italy
9Section of Pathological Anatomy, Department of Advanced Biomedical Sciences, University of Napoli “Federico II”, 80100 Napoli, Italy
10Section of Pathological Anatomy, National Cancer Institute “G. Pascale Foundation”, 80100 Napoli, Italy
11Section of Anatomy and Histology, Department of Bio-Medical Sciences, University of Catania, 95100 Catania, Italy
12Section of Maxillo-Facial Surgery, Department of Experimental Science in Medicine and Dentistry, University of Messina, 98100 Messina, Italy
13IRCCS-CROB, Oncological Reference Centre of Basilicata, 85028 Rionero in Vulture, Italy
14Section of Oral Pathology, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Foggia, 71122 Foggia, Italy

Received 1 August 2013; Revised 26 October 2013; Accepted 17 November 2013; Published 8 January 2014

Academic Editor: Franco M. Buonaguro

Copyright © 2014 Angela Santoro et al. 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.


Introduction. Although altered regulation of the Wnt pathway via beta-catenin is a frequent event in several human cancers, its potential implications in oral/oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC/OPSCC) are largely unexplored. Work purpose was to define association between beta-catenin expression and clinical-pathological parameters in 374 OSCCs/OP-SCCs by immunohistochemistry (IHC). Materials and Methods. Association between IHC detected patterns of protein expression and clinical-pathological parameters was assessed by statistical analysis and survival rates by Kaplan-Meier curves. Beta-catenin expression was also investigated in OSCC cell lines by Real-Time PCR. An additional analysis of the DNA content was performed on 22 representative OSCCs/OPSCCs by DNA-image-cytometric analysis. Results and Discussion. All carcinomas exhibited significant alterations of beta-catenin expression (). Beta-catenin protein was mainly detected in the cytoplasm of cancerous cells and only focal nuclear positivity was observed. Higher cytoplasmic expression correlated significantly with poor histological differentiation, advanced stage, and worst patient outcome (). By Real-Time PCR significant increase of beta-catenin mRNA was detected in OSCC cell lines and in 45% of surgical specimens. DNA ploidy study demonstrated high levels of aneuploidy in beta-catenin overexpressing carcinomas. Conclusions. This is the largest study reporting significant association between beta-catenin expression and clinical-pathological factors in patients with OSCCs/OPSCCs.