BACKGROUND: RCAS1 (receptor-binding cancer antigen expressed on SiSo cells) is known to induce apoptosis in its receptor-positive cells. The authors investigated RCAS1 expression in oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and its association with the apoptosis of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). METHODS: In 130 patients with oral SCC, the expression of RCAS1 in tumor cells was immunohistochemically examined and the apoptosis of TILs was examined by Terminal Deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP Nick End Labeling (TUNEL) staining. RESULTS: RCAS1 was detected both on the cytoplasm and the membrane of tumor cells in 41 of 130 cases (31.5%). Focusing on the expression at the invasive front interacting with host immune cells, RCAS1 was detected in 22 of 130 cases (16.9%). The percentage of TUNEL-positive TILs in cases with RCAS1-positive SCCs was significantly higher than in cases with RCAS1-negative SCCs (P < 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: RCAS1 can be expressed on oral SCC cells and may be involved in the tumor escape from the host immune system by inducing the apoptosis of TILs.
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