To investigate the expression of ceramide produced by sphingomyelin and DNA content in patients with healthy laryngeal mucosa, leukoplakia, and laryngeal carcinoma.
A retrospective review of the clinical and surgical records of 178 patients with leukoplakia of the larynx; 23 of them developed laryngeal carcinoma.
University medical center.
One hundred seventy-eight consecutive patients with leukoplakia of the larynx were identified from the archived pathology files of the Eye Ear Nose and Throat Hospital of Fudan University from January 1, 1990, to December 30, 2001. Among them, 23 developed laryngeal carcinoma. Flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry were performed to test DNA content and ceramide expression in healthy tissue, tissue with leukoplakia, and tissue with laryngeal carcinoma from the same patient.
Among 23 patients with leukoplakia, 20 had aneuploidy and 3 had diploidy. The healthy tissues were all diploids, and the tissues with laryngeal carcinoma were all aneuploids. The expression of ceramide decreased gradually from healthy tissue to tissue with leukoplakia to tissue with laryngeal carcinoma (0, no staining; 1+, weak staining; 2+, mild staining; 3+, moderate staining; 4+, strong staining; and 5+, the highest staining intensity). The expression of ceramide in DNA diploid cells is stronger than in aneuploid cells.
Ceramide, the second messenger in apoptosis, may associate with the progress of leukoplakia to carcinoma of the larynx. The reduction of ceramide may contribute to laryngeal carcinogenesis.