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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Zhuo (Georgia) Chen, Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University School of Medicine, 1365-C Clifton Road, Suite C3086, Atlanta, GA 30322; Phone: 404-778-3977; Fax: 404-778-5520; Email: gzchen@emory.edu

Acknowledgments: We thank Dr. Anthea Hammond for editing the paper.


Research Funding:

This study is supported by grants from National Institutes of Heath (R21 CA125062) and Georgia Cancer Collation Distinguished Scholar Award to ZGC.


  • Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1
  • biomarker
  • metastasis
  • immunohistochemistry
  • head and neck cancer
  • quantum dot
  • nanotechnology

Comparison of Quantum Dot Technology with Conventional Immunohistochemistry in Examining Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 1A1 as a Potential Biomarker for Lymph Node Metastasis of Head and Neck Cancer

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Journal Title:

European Journal of Cancer


Volume 48, Number 11


, Pages 1682-1691

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


This study explored whether expression of aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1A1) in the primary tumor correlated with lymph node metastasis (LNM) of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (HNSCC). We used both quantum dot (QD)-based immunohistofluorescence (IHF) and conventional immunohistochemistry (IHC) to quantify ALDH1A1 expression in primary tumor samples taken from 96 HNSCC patients, 50 with disease in the lymph nodes and 46 without. The correlation between the quantified level of ALDH1A1 expression and LNM in HNSCC patients was evaluated with univariate and multivariate analysis. The prognostic value of ALDH1A1 was examined by Kaplan-Meier analysis and Wald test. ALDH1A1 was highly correlated with LNM in HNSCC patients (p < 0.0001 by QD-based IHF and 0.039 by IHC). The two methods (QD-based IHF and conventional IHC) for quantification of ALDH1A1 were found to be comparable (R = 0.75, p < 0.0001), but QD-IHF was more sensitive and objective than IHC. The HNSCC patients with low ALDH1A1 expression had a higher 5-year survival rate than those with high ALDH1A1 level (p = 0.025). Our study suggests that ALDH1A1 is a potential biomarker for predicting LNM in HNSCC patients, though it is not an independent prognostic factor for survival of HNSCC patients. Furthermore, QD-IHF has advantages over IHC in quantification of ALDH1A1 expression in HNSCC tissues.

Copyright information:

© 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommerical-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

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