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Fatty Acid binding protein 7 is a molecular marker in adenoid cystic carcinoma of the salivary glands: implications for clinical significance.


Adenoid cystic carcinoma (ACC) is an aggressive malignant neoplasm of the salivary glands. Its diagnosis is difficult due to overlapping features with other salivary tumors. Gene expression analysis may complement traditional diagnostic methods. We searched gene expression patterns in the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database and in our tumor and normal samples. The biologic and prognostic potential of the identified genes was analyzed. The GEO data set of primary xenografted ACCs revealed that expression of five genes, engrailed homeobox 1 (EN1), fatty acid binding protein 7 (FABP7), hemoglobin epsilon 1, MYB, and versican (VCAN), was dramatically increased. mRNA expression of EN1, FABP7, MYB, and VCAN distinguished our sporadic ACCs from normal tissues and benign tumors. FABP7 expression appeared to be regulated differently from EN1 and MYB and was crossly correlated with poor prognosis in our ACC cohort. Immunohistochemistry showed that FABP7 protein was predominantly expressed in the nucleus of myoepithelial cells of both tubular and cribriform subtypes. In contrast, in the solid subtype, which is often associated with a lower survival rate, FABP7 protein was uniformly expressed in cancerous cells. One case with cribriform architecture and the highest level of FABP7 mRNA showed strong FABP7 staining in both duct-type epithelial and myoepithelial cells, suggesting that diffuse expression of FABP7 protein might be related to aggressive tumor behavior and poor prognosis. We propose FABP7 as a novel biomarker in ACC. The molecule may be useful in diagnosis and for identifying more effective therapies targeting this protein or upstream molecules that regulate it.

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