Integrin signaling may modulate several different functions involved in cell migration, invasion, proliferation and motility, and is a potential candidate biomarker for oral cancer. In the present study, a total of four integrin genes were evaluated as potential biomarkers of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Gene expression was determined using the reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction in 55 OSCC and 55 matched normal oral tissues. The performance of individual and combined biomarkers was analyzed by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis based on the relative mRNA expression (OSCC vs. matched oral tissue from the tumor-free margin), which was calculated using the ΔΔCq value (ΔCq of OSCC-ΔCq of oral tissue from the tumor-free margin of the same patient). In the individual ROC analysis, the areas under the ROC curve (AUCs) of relative mRNA expression (ΔΔCq) of integrin subunit α3 (ITGA3), integrin subunit α5 (ITGA5), integrin subunit β1 (ITGB1) and integrin subunit β6 (ITGB6) in all tumor locations were 0.724, 0.698, 0.640 and 0.657, respectively. For locations 2 (tongue/mouth part) and 3 (edentulous ridge), their individual AUC values were 0.840, 0.765, 0.725 and 0.763, respectively. In the cumulative ROC analysis, ITGA3, ITGA5 and ITGB1 genes exhibited the highest combined AUC values (0.809 and 0.871 for all locations and locations 2 and 3 combined, respectively) compared with other biomarker combinations. In conclusion, the results of the present study identified that higher mRNA expressions of ITGA3, ITGA5, ITGB1 and ITGB6 genes are suitable for OSCC diagnosis biomarkers. Cumulative ROC analysis indicated an improved overall performance compared with the best individual integrin biomarker of OSCC.
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