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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

L-DOPA decarboxylase mRNA expression is associated with tumor stage and size in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: a retrospective cohort study

Panagiota-Aikaterini Geomela1, Christos K Kontos1, Ioannis Yiotakis2, Emmanuel G Fragoulis1 and Andreas Scorilas1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Athens, Panepistimiopolis, Athens 15701, Greece

2 First Ear, Nose & Throat Clinics, Athens General Hospital ‘Hippokration, University of Athens, 114 Vasilissis Sofias Ave, Athens 11527, Greece

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:484  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-484

Published: 20 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) represents one of the most commonly diagnosed malignancies worldwide. The DDC gene encodes L-DOPA decarboxylase, an enzyme catalyzing the decarboxylation of L-DOPA to dopamine. We have recently shown that DDC mRNA is a significant predictor of patients’ prognosis in colorectal adenocarcinoma and prostate cancer. The aim of the current study was to analyze the DDC mRNA expression in HNSCC patients.

Methods

53 malignant tumors were resected from the larynx, pharynx, tongue, buccal mucosa, parotid glands, and nasal cavity, as well as from 34 adjacent non-cancerous tissues of HNSCC patients, and were homogenized. Total RNA was isolated and converted into first-strand cDNA. An ultrasensitive real-time PCR method based on the SYBR Green chemistry was used for DDC mRNA quantification in head and neck tissue specimens. Relative quantification was performed using the comparative Ct (2-ddCt) method.

Results

DDC mRNA levels were lower in squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) of the larynx and tongue than in adjacent non-cancerous tissue specimens. Furthermore, low DDC mRNA expression was noticed in laryngeal and tongue tumors of advanced TNM stage or bigger size, compared to early-stage or smaller tumors, respectively. No statistically significant differences were observed between SCCs resected from pharynx, buccal mucosa, or nasal cavity, and their normal counterparts.

Conclusion

This is the first study examining the DDC mRNA expression in HNSCC. According to our results, DDC mRNA expression may constitute a potential prognostic biomarker in tongue and/or larynx SCCs, which principally represent the overwhelming majority of HNSCC cases.

Keywords:
Oral cancer; Larynx; Tongue; Tumor biomarkers; Quantitative real-time PCR