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Carcinogenesis
Year: 2009  |  Volume: 30  |  Issue: 12  |  Page No.: 2059 - 2063

MicroRNA expression in head and neck cancer associates with alcohol consumption and survival

M Avissar, M. D McClean, K. T Kelsey and C. J. Marsit    

Abstract:

The contribution of microRNAs (miRNAs) to carcinogenesis in many tumors, including head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs), is clear, but the etiology and clinical significance of their alteration remain important questions. Our previous work has identified four miRNAs as differentially expressed HNSCCs compared with non-diseased epithelia and showed that there is potential diagnostic utility in examining their expression. Here, we used quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction to determine the relative expression of these miRNAs in a larger independent case series of HNSCC tumors (n = 169), examining associations of miRNA expression with exposures and clinical features associated with HNSCC. In multivariate analyses, expression of miR-375 was shown to increase with alcohol consumption (P = 0.002) and showed higher expression in tumors of pharyngeal and laryngeal origin compared with oral tumors (P < 0.05 and P < 0.01, respectively). Additionally, high miR-21 expression was associated with significantly decreased 5 year survival in patients (hazard ratio, 1.68; 95% CI: 1.04–2.77) in a model controlled for patient age, gender and tumor stage. Together, these data suggest that alterations in miRNA expression are related to exposures causal in head and neck cancer and may be useful biomarkers of patient outcome.

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