Head and Neck Pathology
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Polymorphous adenocarcinoma (PAC) is the second most common malignant salivary gland tumour of minor salivary glands. Human tissue kallikreins (KLKs) are a family of highly conserved serine proteases expressed by various tissues and organs. The literature demonstrates a link between KLKs and salivary gland neoplasms. The purpose of this study was to determine levels of KLK mRNA in tissue samples of PAC and to determine if KLK expression is limited to tumour cells. Nineteen cases of PAC were reviewed (1987–2013). The diagnosis was confirmed, demographic data was collected, and formalin fixed paraffin-embedded PAC and normal salivary gland tissue samples were obtained. RNA isolation was achieved, followed by conversion to complementary DNA via reverse transcription. Using PCR, the quantitative level of expression of KLKs1–15 was recorded. Samples exhibiting high and low KLK expression were selected for immunohistochemistry staining. Results revealed a statistically significant increase in mean KLK mRNA expression for KLK1, KLK4, KLK10, KLK12 and KLK15 in PAC tissue samples, compared with normal salivary gland tissue (Mann–Whitney U test, p < 0.05). Immunohistochemistry results demonstrated that KLKs were present in tumor cells. Notably, all samples demonstrating relatively higher KLK mRNA expression showed equivalent or increased staining scores relative to the low KLK mRNA expression samples. In conclusion, there appears to be aberrant kallikrein expression in polymorphous adenocarcinoma, suggesting the possibility of a kallikrein cascade influence on tumor development and progression.