Altered peritumoral microRNA expression predicts head and neck cancer patients with a high risk of recurrence
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Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is typically characterized by a high incidence of local recurrences. It has been extensively shown that mucosa from head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients carries both genetic and gene expression alterations, which are mostly attributable to major etiologic agents of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. We previously identified a signature of microRNAs (miRNAs) whose high expression in tumors is predictive of recurrence. Here, we investigated whether the deregulation of miRNA expression in the tumor-surrounding mucosa is correlated to disease recurrence. Specifically, comparing the miRNA expression in matched tumoral, peritumoral, and normal tissues collected from head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients, we identified 35 miRNAs that are deregulated in both tumoral and peritumoral tissues as compared with normal matched samples. Four of these composed a miRNA signature that predicts head and neck squamous cell carcinoma local recurrence independently from prognostic clinical variables. The predictive power of the miRNA signature increased when using the expression levels derived from both the peritumoral and the tumoral tissues. The expression signal of the miRNAs composing the predictive signature correlated with the transcriptional levels of genes mostly associated with proliferation. Our results show that expression of miRNAs in tumor-surrounding mucosa may strongly contribute to the identification of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients at high risk of local recurrence.
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