Background: Aldo-keto reductase family 1 member B10 (AKR1B10) is an enzyme implicated in physiological xenobiotic detoxification and also in pathological carcinogenesis. Overexpression of AKR1B10 has been reported in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), but its correlation with clinical prognosis is controversial. The aim of this study was to investigate and clarify the role of AKR1B10 in OSCC carcinogenesis. Methods: Tumor tissue specimens were surgically obtained from 107 patients with OSCC. The expression of AKR1B10 was analyzed by immunohistochemistry to explore the relationship between the level of AKR1B10 and clinicopathological features of OSCC patients. Kaplan-Meier survival and Cox proportional hazard analysis were used to determine the prognostic value of AKR1B10 in OSCC. Results: High expression of AKR1B10 was found to be associated with tumor size (P = 0.043), perineural invasion (P = 0.012), and recurrence (P = 0.001) in OSCC. Cox model analysis revealed that high expression of AKR1B10 is significantly associated with poor overall and disease-free survival in OSCC patients. With the combination of clinicopathological factors in analysis, we found that the expression level of AKR1B10 was a practical indicator that could categorize OSCC patients into different risk groups. High expression of AKR1B10 was associated with a reduced survival in patients with well and moderately differentiated OSCC and even a high incidence of tumor recurrence in the patients with late-stage (III and IV) disease. Conclusion: We validated and expanded data on the expression of AKR1B10 in OSCC, suggesting that it is a valuable biomarker for prognostic prediction of recurrence and survival in OSCC.
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