Background: Endothelin-converting enzyme-1 (ECE-1) primarily converts big endothelins (ETs) into active endothelin-1 (ET-1). However, the expression pattern and prognostication status of ECE-1 in head and neck cancer (HNC) are enigmatic. In this study, we investigated ECE-1 expression and assessed the roles of ECE-1 as a predictor for HNC differentiation and prognosis. Materials and Methods: ECE-1 expressions were evaluated by immunohistochemical analysis using a tissue microarray (TMA) composed of 100 cases of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The correlation of ECE-1 expression with clinicopathologic variables and patient outcomes was analyzed. Results: ECE-1 may be overexpressed in HNC carcinoma cells. Higher ECE-1 level was detected more frequently in moderately to poorly differentiated tumors and showed a lower differentiation category compared to the G1 cases (p = 0.015); this finding was further confirmed by an adjusted odds ratio (OR) of 4.071 (p = 0.042). Moreover, Kaplan–Meier survival analyses showed that a higher ECE-1 expression was associated with a poorer survival in patients with HNC (p < 0.0001). On multivariate Cox proportional hazards models analysis, ECE-1 of high expression proved to be an independent prognostic factor with a hazard ratio (HR) of 3.985 (p < 0.001). Conclusion: Our data provide the first evidence that overexpression of ECE-1 in HNC is a predictor of poor tumor differentiation and prognosis.
- endothelin-converting enzyme-1
- head and neck/oral squamous cell carcinoma