Retinoids are useful in the treatment of premalignant oral lesions and in preventing the occurrence of second primary cancers after resection of the initial primary oral cancer, but long-term prognosis is still poor, presumably due to malignant cells escaping retinoid control. Previous work has shown that loss of expression of retinoic acid receptor β is one of the most consistent molecular changes during oral cancer progression in vivo. In this report we demonstrate, using a novel panel of primary cultures of oral lesions, that loss of retinoic acid receptor β expression at the dysplasia stage occurs during the transition from senescent to immortal phenotype but may occur independently to the loss of CDKN2A/p16 expression.

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The work of F. M. on this project was supported by the Association for International Cancer Research. P. R. H. and K. P. are supported by the Cancer Research Campaign.

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