Maspin (mammary serine protease inhibitor) is a member of the serpin superfamily of protease inhibitors and it has a role as a tumor suppressor. Maspin has been reported to be important in processes relevant to tumor growth and metastasis such as cell invasion, angiogenesis, and apoptosis. A high expression of maspin was correlated with better rates of survival and absence of nodal metastases in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. In contrast, some studies have shown that maspin overexpression is correlated with a poor prognosis in pancreatic and ovarian cancers and in lung adenocarcinoma. The aim of this study was an immunohistochemical evaluation of the maspin expression in oral squamous cell carcinoma and thus 89 patients were evaluated. Maspin expression in oral squamous cell carcinoma was significantly associated with the tumor differentiation grade (chi test: P = 0.0318) and the lymph node status (chi test: P < 0.005), but not with the tumor stage (chi test: P = 0.666). Metastatic involvement of lymph nodes was observed more frequently in maspin-negative cases than in tumors with more than 5\% of positive cells (P = 0.0024). The present results confirm that maspin expression predicts a better prognosis in oral squamous cell carcinoma and that maspin probably plays a role in tumor progression.
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