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Expression patterns of uPAR, TF and EGFR and their potential as targets for molecular imaging in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma

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The clinical introduction of molecular imaging for the management of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) relies on the identification of relevant cancer‑specific biomarkers. The application of three membrane‑bound receptors, namely urokinase‑type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR), tissue factor (TF) and EGFR have been previously explored for targeted imaging and therapeutic strategies in a broad range of solid cancers. The present study aimed to investigate the expression patterns of uPAR, EGFR and TF by immunohistochemistry (IHC) to evaluate their potential for targeted imaging and prognostic value in OPSCC. In a retrospective cohort of 93 patients with primary OPSCC, who were balanced into the 45 human papillomavirus (HPV)‑positive and 48 HPV‑negative groups, the IHC‑determined expression profiles of uPAR, TF and EGFR in large biopsy or tumor resection specimens were analyzed. Using the follow‑up data, overall survival (OS) and recurrence‑free survival were measured. Specifically, associations between survival outcome, biomarker expression and clinicopathological factors were examined using Cox proportional hazards model and log‑rank test following Kaplan‑Meier statistics. After comparing the expression pattern of biomarkers within the tumor compartment with that in the adjacent normal tissues, uPAR and TF exhibited a highly tumor‑specific expression pattern, whereas EGFR showed a homogeneous expression within the tumor compartment as well as a consistent expression in the normal mucosal epithelium and salivary gland tissues. The positive expression rate of uPAR, TF and EGFR in the tumors was 98.9, 76.3 and 98.9%, respectively. No statistically significant association between biomarker expression and survival outcome could be detected. Higher uPAR expression levels had a trend towards reduced OS according to results from univariate analysis (P=0.07; hazard ratio=2.01; 95% CI=0.92‑4.37). Taken together, these results suggest that uPAR, TF and EGFR may be suitable targets for molecular imaging and therapy in OPSCC. In particular, uPAR may be an attractive target owing to their high positive expression rates in tumors and a highly tumor‑specific expression pattern.

Original languageEnglish
Article number147
JournalOncology Reports
Volume48
Issue number2
ISSN1021-335X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

ID: 79165567