, Volume 13, Issue 10, pp 747-752
Date: 16 Nov 2011

Change of telomerase activity in peripheral whole blood of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients before and after surgery: a pilot study

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Abstract

Background

The purpose of this study was to evaluate telomerase activity in peripheral whole blood from head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients as a biomarker for diagnosis of HNSCC or detection of recurrence during follow-up.

Materials and methods

Telomerase activity was measured from peripheral whole blood extracts by telomerase repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) in HNSCC patients before and after surgery and in a control group. Sixty-two HNSCC patients and 42 control subjects were included.

Results

Telomerase activity was found in 41 out of 62 (66.1%) HNSCC patients before surgery and in 8 out of 42 (19.0%) controls (p<0.001). Among 41 HNSCC patients who showed positive telomerase activity before surgery, 32 (78.1%) showed a conversion of telomerase activity to negative after surgery. In follow-up, 6 out of 8 (75%) showed conversion of telomerase activity from negative to positive after recurrence. Telomerase activity was changed to negative in 4 out of 6 (66%) recurred patients with positive telomerase activity after second surgery.

Conclusion

The telomerase activity in peripheral whole blood extracts of HNSCC patients might be a useful biomarker for detecting recurrence after treatment. Further study with larger sample size using a more sensitive detection method of telomerase activity is necessary to verify these results.