Gene expression profiling of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma using cDNA microarrays.

Stefan Gottschlich, Petra Ambrosch, Christian Cordes, Tibor Görögh, Stefan Schreiber, Robert Häsler
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International journal of oncology
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The molecular mechanisms causing the development of squamous cell carcinomas in the head and neck region are mostly unknown. Identification of molecular changes which are involved in carcinogenesis might play a key role in improving the diagnosis, therapy and prognosis of patients with carcinomas in the head and neck. The purpose of the study was to identify transcriptional alterations of apoptosis associated genes between normal mucosa and tumor tissue. We measured the mRNA expression of 408 apoptosis associated genes by microarray-technique in normal upper aerodigestive tract mucosa (n=4), and in cancer tissue (n=8) of squamous cell carcinomas of the upper aerodigestive tract. RT-PCR was performed to confirm the microarray results. A hierarchial cluster analysis, based on 22 selected marker-genes showing a separation of the two tissue types supports the hypothesis of a specific expression pattern associated with tumor development. Additionally, we found 11 genes associated with anti-apoptotic processes to be upregulated while 12 genes associated with proapoptotic functions as well as 5 DNA-replication and chromosome cycle associated genes were found to be downregulated in the tumor tissue. Furthermore 6 of 8 genes which are known to be associated with lymphocyte activation were upregulated in tumor edge tissue. These results represent a first step for the diagnostic use of microarrays in squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck region and might improve the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis in the head and neck region.