Association of ALDH1 with Response to Radiotherapy and Its Impact on Survival in Patients with Advanced Stage of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC)

Document Type : Research Articles


1 Department of Radiotherapy, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.

2 Toxicology & Experimental Medicine Division, Central Drug Research Institute (CSIR), Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.

3 Department of Otorhinolaryngology & Head Neck Surgery, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.

4 Department of Surgical Oncology, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India.


Background: The presence of cancer stem-like cells within tumor microenvironment distinctly governs response to chemo-radiotherapy. The ALDH1 (Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1) has emerged as a cancer stem cell (CSC) marker in various tumors. The aim of the study was to examine the expression of ALDH1 in HNSCC patients undergoing radiotherapy to evaluate its correlation with clinicopathological parameter, treatment response and survival. Methods: Expression of ALDH1 was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 90 histopathologically confirmed HNSCC patients and 90 matched controls. The association between ALDH1 expression, clinicopathological parameters and treatment response was determined. Results: The immunohistochemistry results showed that ALDH1 was consistently expressed in all the HNSCC specimens although at different intensities. On the other hand, control specimens did not show similar expression of ALDH1. ALDH1 expression demonstrated statistically significant association with tumor size (p<0.001), lymph node status (p<0.001), stage (p<0.001), grade (p<0.001) and treatment response (p<0.001). Multivariate ordinal logistic regression analysis indicated alcohol and ALDH1 as an independent predictor of responsiveness to radiotherapy in HNSCC patients. Multivariate Cox regression analysis indicated that lymph node status (p=0.020), grade (p=0.006) and recurrence (p=0.002) were potential independent predictors of overall survival. Conclusion: From previous studies, ALDH1 has been contemplated not only as a promising prognostic and diagnostic marker but also as a likely drug target. Our study gives new understanding regarding the association between ALDH1, cancer prognosis and radioresistance. Our findings suggest that ALDH1, lymph node status, grade and alcohol could be the viable targets for HNSCC and it also provides new prospects for radiotherapy sensitivity in HNSCC.


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