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Cellular & Molecular Biology Letters

Open Access

Detection of the status of tumour-infiltrating CD4+ T-cell subpopulations in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC) using real-time RT-PCR detection of CD4 mRNA

Cellular & Molecular Biology LettersAn International Journal200712:4

Received: 14 September 2006

Accepted: 21 November 2006

Published: 19 January 2007


Several studies have reported tumour infiltrating CD4+ T cells as a favourable prognostic factor in some types of cancer. We investigated 37 head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) at different stages, using immunohistochemical staining for CD4+ infiltrates and real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) detection of CD4 mRNA. The CD4+ infiltrates were evaluated and expressed as a percentage according to the ratio of CD4+ T cells to epithelial cells in the cancer cell nests and to the overall inflammatory cell infiltrate in the tumor stroma. The CD4 mRNA expression level strongly correlated with the CD4+ infiltration score in the cancer epithelium (rs = 0.858, P < 0.001) and in the cancer stroma (rs = 0.797, P < 0.001). These results indicate that the real-time RT-PCR assay is a sensitive and reliable method for the detection of CD4 mRNA, and that it could be used to reassess CD4+ infiltration status in resected specimens from patients with HNSCC.

Key words

Tumour infiltrating CD4+ T cellsRT-PCR CD4 mRNA detectionHNSCC