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ABSTRACT: The expression of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), stress-related enzyme, is induced in leukaemia and some cancer tissues, but relatively little is known about the differential pattern of HO-1 expression and proliferation in premalignant lesions of the epithelial oral mucosa. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether HO-1 expression and proliferation were increased in preneoplastic lesions compared to normal and oral cancer tissues. Immunohistochemical staining was used to examine the expression patterns of HO-1 and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) in a series of normal mucosa and mild-to-severe cases of oral epithelial dysplasia (OED) and oral squamous cell carcinoma. Both HO-1 and PCNA are expressed in the basal cells of normal oral mucosa. In patients with OED and carcinoma in situ, immunostaining for PCNA and HO-1 was more intense, and gradually extended into the superficial layers of the mucosa. HO-1 and PCNA expression was correlated with the degree of epithelial dysplasia. Oral squamous cell carcinoma also showed elevated expression of HO-1, but this level was not higher than in severe OED or carcinoma in situ. These results suggest that the up-regulation of HO-1 in premalignant oral lesions is part of an early cytoprotection mechanism against carcinogenesis in the oral mucosa.
International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 04/2008; 37(3):287-92. · 1.52 Impact Factor