Zinc finger AN1-type containing 4 is a novel marker for predicting metastasis and poor prognosis in oral squamous cell carcinoma

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Head and neck cancer, including oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), is the sixth most common cancer worldwide and has a high potential for locoregional invasion and nodal metastasis. Therefore, discovery of a useful molecular biomarker capable of predicting tumour progression and metastasis of OSCC is crucial. We have previously reported zinc finger AN1-type containing 4 (ZFAND4) as one of the most upregulated genes in recurrent OSCC using a cDNA microarray analysis. Although ZFAND4 has been shown to promote cell proliferation of gastric cancer, its expression and clinicopathological roles in OSCC remain unclear.


In this study, we examined ZFAND4 expression by immunohistochemistry in 214 cases of OSCC.


High cytoplasmic expression of ZFAND4 was observed in 45 out of 214 (21%) patients with OSCC. Expression levels of ZFAND4 were strongly associated with metastasis to the lymph nodes (p=0.0429) and distant organs (p=0.0068). Cases with high expression of ZFAND4 had a significantly unfavourable prognosis compared with patients with low expression of ZFAND4 (p<0.0001). Furthermore, ZFAND4 overexpression was an independent poor prognostic factor for OSCC as determined by multivariate analysis using the Cox proportional hazards model (p<0.0001).


These results suggest that ZFAND4 is a useful marker for predicting metastasis and poor prognosis in patients with OSCC.

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