CD151 expression is frequent but unrelated to clinical outcome in head and neck cancer.


CD151 is a plasma membrane protein belonging to the tetraspanin family. CD151 represents a putative therapeutic target and has been suggested as a prognostic marker in several cancer types. The present study aims to investigate the prognostic relevance of immunohistochemical CD151 expression in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).
Materials and methods
Tissue microarray (TMA) sections containing samples from 667 cancers of oral cavity, oro- and hypopharynx and larynx, for which follow-up data were available, were analyzed for CD151 expression by immunohistochemistry.
Membranous CD151 immunostaining was recorded in 269 (60.3 %) of 446 analyzable cases. Staining was considered weak in 129 (28.9 %), moderate in 98 (22.0 %), and strong in 42 (9.4 %) of cancers. CD151 expression was unrelated to histological grade, tumor stage, nodal status, or surgical margin. There was a tendency towards a somewhat lower prevalence of CD151 expression in tumors of the oral cavity (52.9 % positive) as compared to cancers of the oro-hypopharynx (62.1 %) and larynx (63.3 %; p = 0.0100). CD151 expression had no impact on patient survival.
Clinical relevance
In summary, immunohistochemical analysis of CD151 lacks prognostic utility in HNSCC. The high prevalence of CD151 expression in HNSCC emphasizes its putative relevance as a therapeutic target for further development of anti-CD151 drugs.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 06.2017