Aberrant DKK3 expression in the oral leukoplakia and oral submucous fibrosis: a comparative immunohistochemical study

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T. Al-dhohorah *
M. Mashrah
Z. Yao
J. Huang
(*) Corresponding Author:
T. Al-dhohorah | twittera@yahoo.com


We aimed to assess and compare the expression of Dickkopf homolog 3 (DKK3), a possible tumor suppressor gene (TSG), in oral leukoplakia (OLK) and oral submucous fibrosis (OSF) using immunohistochemistry. Seventy-five cases of normal oral mucosa (NOM), OLK, OSF, and squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) were studied. DKK3 was expressed in all cases of NOM, OLK and OSCC. There was steady increases in the percentage of the positive cells progressing toward OSCC. The expression was localized in the cytoplasm and cell membrane of cell affected by OLK with mild dysplasia and OLK with severe dysplasia. No significant association was observed between DKK3 expression and dysplastic status of OLK. Loss of DKK3 expression was observed in 15 of 30 cases in the OSF group, which was significantly associated with histological grade of OSF (P<0.0001). The percentage of positive cells gradually declined with the increasing severity of epithelial atrophy. A significant difference (P<0.01) was observed when comparing DKK3 expression among different groups of OLK and OSF cases. DKK3 may have diverse expressions in oral premalignant lesions. Loss of DKK3 expression in dysplastic/advanced stage of OSF may imply a high risk of progression to oral cancer.

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