Research Papers:

Nectin-4 is widely expressed in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

Christine Sanders, Jan-Frederic Lau, Dimo Dietrich, Sebastian Strieth, Peter Brossart and Glen Kristiansen _

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Oncotarget. 2022; 13:1166-1173. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.28299

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Christine Sanders1, Jan-Frederic Lau1, Dimo Dietrich2, Sebastian Strieth2, Peter Brossart3 and Glen Kristiansen1

1 Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Bonn (UKB), Bonn, Germany

2 Department of Otorhinolaryngology, University Medical Center Bonn (UKB), Bonn, Germany

3 Department of Haemato-oncology, University Hospital Bonn (UKB), Bonn, Germany

Correspondence to:

Glen Kristiansen, email: glen.kristiansen@ukbonn.de

Keywords: Nectin-4; enfortumab-vedotin; HNSCC; p16

Received: August 29, 2022     Accepted: October 12, 2022     Published: October 20, 2022

Copyright: © 2022 Sanders et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Purpose: Nectin-4 has been successfully established as a target molecule in locally advanced and metastatic bladder cancer. An antibody-drug conjugate (enfortumab-vedotin) directed against nectin-4 has shown marked tumor remission rates in this tumor type, which is known for high expression rates of nectin-4. As head and neck cancer and urothelial carcinomas share morphological and molecular similarities, we aimed to evaluate Nectin-4 expression in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).

Material and Methods: A previously described and clinically characterized cohort of HNSCC (n = 159) was analyzed by immunohistochemistry for Nectin-4 expression. The expression data was correlated to clinico-pathological parameters including patient outcome.

Results: Nectin-4 was found in 86.2% of HNSCC, with medium/high expression seen in 32.7% of cases. Non smokers and p16 positive HNSCC showed a higher expression of Nectin-4 (p < 0.005). There was no correlation of Nectin-4 with grading or tumor stage. Nectin-4 positive tumors showed a significant better survival (log rank p = 0.006).

Conclusions: Similar to urothelial carcinoma, Nectin-4 is found in the majority of HNSCC, which clearly warrants further studies to clarify if HNSCC also respond to targeted therapy with enfortumab-vedotin. Moreover, expression of Nectin-4 is associated with HPV infection and may serve as a prognostic marker in HNSCC.

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