Objective: To investigate the clinicopathological and prognostic significance of the expression of cathepsin L and its inhibitor headpin, in oral squamous cell carcinoma. Design: Immunohistochemical studies were performed on 56 oral squamous cell carcinoma samples. We evaluated the relationship between cathepsin L and headpin expression versus patients' clinicopathological factors and survival. Results: The group that was positive for cathepsin L expression tended to have positive metastatic neck lymph nodes and a poorer prognosis. Headpin expression was not related to metastasis or prognosis. Well differentiated squamous cell carcinoma had higher levels of headpin expression compared with poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma. Conclusion: Cathepsin L expression is related to the invasive and metastatic potential of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
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