Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

P-cadherin expression and survival rate in oral squamous cell carcinoma:an immunohistochemical study

Lorenzo Lo Muzio1, Giuseppina Campisi2*, Antonio Farina3, Corrado Rubini4, Giuseppe Pannone1, Rosario Serpico5, Gregorio Laino1, Alfredo De Lillo1 and Francesco Carinci6

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgical Sciences, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy

2 Department of Dental Sciences "G. Messina", University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy

3 Institute of Histology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

4 Institute of Pathology, University of Ancona, Ancona, Italy

5 Department of Dental Sciences, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy

6 Institute of Maxillofacial Surgery, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy

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BMC Cancer 2005, 5:63  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-5-63

Published: 21 June 2005



P-cadherin (P-cad) is a transmembrane molecule involved in the cell-cell adhesion and similar to E-cadherin (E-cad), but less investigated in oncology, especially in in vivo studies. Aims of the present study were to assess the prevalence of P-cad expression in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and to verify whether P-cad can be considered a marker of prognosis in patients with OSCC.


In a retrospective study, a cohort of 67 OSCC patients was investigated for P-cad expression and its cellular localization by immunohistochemistry; some respective healthy margins of resection were similarly investigated as standard controls. After grouping for P-cad expression, OSCCs were statistically analyzed for the variables age, gender, histological grading (G), TNM, Staging, and overall survival rate. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed.


37 cases (55.2%) of OSCC showed membranous/cytoplasmic positivity for P-cad, whereas 30 (44.8 %) were negative. Although with some differences in membranous vs cytoplasmic localization of P-cad in OSCC with different G, no statistical association was found between P-cad expression and any variables considered at baseline. In terms of prognostic significance, P-cad non expression was found to have an independent association with poorer overall survival rate than P-cad expressing group (P = 0.056); moreover, among P-cad +ve patients the best prognosis was for those OSCC with membranous (P < 0.0001) than those with cytoplasmic P-cad expression.


On the basis of these results, it is possible to suggest P-cad as an early marker of poor prognosis. The abnormal or lack of P-cad expression could constitute an hallmark of aggressive biological behavior in OSCC