Predictive Role of p53 Protein as a Single Marker or Associated to Ki67 Antigen in Oral Carcinogenesis

L. Montebugnoli1, *, L. Felicetti1, D.B. Gissi1, F. Cervellati1, D. Servidio1, C. Marchetti1, C. Prati1, F. Flamminio2, M.P. Foschini2
1 Department of Oral Science, University of Bologna
2 Section of Anatomic Pathology at Bellaria Hospital, University of Bologna, Italy

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2008 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Oral Science, University of Bologna, Italy; E-mail:


p53 over-expression has been proposed as a reliable marker associated to oral carcinogenesis, although only about 50% of oral carcinomas (OSCC) are associated with p53 over-expression and even p53-negative lesions can progress to OSCC. The aim of the study was to determine whether the combination of p53 over-expression and p53 low-expression associated with Ki67 over-expression (high Ki67/p53 ratio) could lead to a more sensitive parameter. Immunohistochemical expression of Ki67 and p53 was measured in 54 specimens from OSCC; 27 specimens from moderate/severe epithelial dysplasia; 32 specimens from oral leukoplakias without epithelial dysplasia, and 13 specimens with normal epithelium. p53 over-expression was found in 31 (53%) samples from OSCC, in 10 (37%) samples from severe dysplasias, and in 5 (15%) samples from non-dysplastic lesions, while the combination of high p53 values with high Ki67/p53 ratio was observed in 93% of OSCC, in 81% of dysplastic lesions, and in 50% of non-dysplastic lesions. This parameter may have a clinical implication to detect early lesions with an impairment of p53 pathway, and probably at risk of progress to OSCC.