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Expression of Protein Tyrosine Kinases in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinomas

Weg M. Ongkeko MD, PhD, Xabier Altuna MD, Robert A. Weisman MD, Jessica Wang-Rodriguez MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/BTLN5WTMJ3PCNRRC 71-76 First published online: 1 July 2005


Protein tyrosine kinases (TKs) are overexpressed in many carcinomas and sarcomas. We studied the expression of the following TKs in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC): platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR), c-kit, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and a serine-threonine kinase, Akt. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor blocks from 44 consecutive patients with primary HNSCC and 5 specimens of benign pharyngeal and laryngeal mucosa were retrieved for immunohistochemical analysis. Of the specimens, 38 enough material to stain for all 4 antibodies. The study included 21 pharyngeal (base of tongue, 14; tonsil, 6; soft palate, 1), 16 laryngeal, and 1 floor of the mouth carcinoma. All 4 kinases in the tumor samples were expressed highly (PDGFR, 95%-100%; EGFR, 38%-43%; c-kit, 50%-86%; p-Akt, 57%-81%), with EGFR, c-kit, and p-Akt significantly higher than in benign samples. None of the kinase expressions correlated with disease-free survival. The expression of kinases raises the possibility of treatment of HNSCC tyrosine and serine-threonine kinase inhibitors.

Key Words:
  • Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
  • Tyrosine kinase
  • Signal transduction
  • Immunohistochemistry