The expression of the voltage-gated potassium channel Kv3.4 was investigated in both oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC) and oral leucoplakias to establish its clinical significance during the development and progression of OSCC.Materials and methods:
Tissue specimens from 62 patients with oral leucoplakia were collected prospectively and 100 patients with OSCC who underwent surgical treatment were collected retrospectively, and Kv3.4 expression was analysed by immunohistochemistry.Results:
Thirty-nine of 100 tumours exhibited Kv3.4-positive expression, and staining was associated with the degree of differentiation (P = 0.05) but showed no impact on patient prognosis. Abnormal Kv3.4 expression was detected in 16% (7 of 43) hyperplastic lesions and at a significantly higher proportion in oral dysplasias (50%, 8 of 16 cases; P = 0.008), whereas expression was negligible in normal adjacent epithelia. Furthermore, patients carrying Kv3.4-positive lesions exhibited a higher progression risk than those with Kv3.4-negative lesions; however, histology but not Kv3.4 expression predicted oral cancer development significantly in this prospective cohort.Conclusion:
This study provides original evidence to demonstrate the early occurrence and high prevalence of abnormal Kv3.4 expression in oral leucoplakias. Our results support a role for Kv3.4 potassium channel in OSCC tumorigenesis rather than tumour progression and disease outcome.