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Original Article
May 2001

Quantitative Assay of Telomerase Activity in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Other Tissues

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Third Teaching Hospital, Xinxiang Medical College, Xinxiang (Dr Zhang and Mr Teng), Department of Otolaryngology, the First Hospital of Henan Medical University, Zhengzhou (Dr Dong), and the Shanghai Naval Medical Institute, Shanghai (Dr Chen), People's Republic of China.

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2001;127(5):581-585. doi:10.1001/archotol.127.5.581
Abstract

Objectives  To confirm the applicability and use of a new technique to detect and quantify telomerase activity of specimens from head and neck malignant neoplasms and to explore whether the levels of telomerase activity can be a useful marker for cancer risk assessment in head and neck malignant neoplasms.

Design  Ninety-six specimens from 39 patients with head and neck malignant neoplasms were obtained. The specimens included 39 from patients with primary tumors (25 with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and 14 with others), 10 from patients with neck metastases, 10 from patients with dysplasias, and 37 from patients with normal tissue. HeLa cell lines were used as positive control samples.

Main Outcome Measure  The levels of telomerase activity were determined using a liquid scintillation counter.

Results  The new method has a high rate of outcome reproducibility. The intrabatch and extrabatch variations were 15.6% and 16.4%, respectively. The linear relationship was good between the telomerase activity and the value within 700 radioactive cpm (rcpm) to approximately 7000 rcpm. The levels of telomerase activity determined by radioactive count were more than 1000 rcpm in 42 of the 49 malignant specimens and much more than that in the normal tissues, with the exception of 3 specimens. The levels of telomerase activity in normal tissues were less than 1000 rcpm in every sample and less than that in the malignant neoplasm samples, with the exception of 1 specimen (P<.000). Higher levels of telomerase activity in 2 of 10 tissues from patients who had dysplasias were detected (2 specimens from patients who had severe dysplasia). The differences in the levels of telomerase activity between the head and neck squamous cell carcinomas and the other tumors were not statistically significant (P>.05).

Conclusions  Detection of telomerase activity in head and neck malignant neoplasms can be a useful marker for the assessment of cancer. Telomerase reactivation may play an important role in tumorigenesis in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The quantification of telomerase activity may have clinical diagnostic value for head and neck malignant neoplasms.

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