Molecular alterations in oral cancer between tobacco chewers and smokers using serum proteomics

Varshasnata Mohanty, Yashwanth Subbannayya, Shankargouda Patil, Riaz Abdulla, Mandakulutur S. Ganesh, Arnab Pal, Jay Gopal Ray, David Sidransky, Harsha Gowda, T. S.Keshava Prasad, Aditi Chatterjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Tobacco exposure (through smoking or chewing) is one of the predominant risk factors associated with the development of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Despite the growing number of patients diagnosed with OSCC, there are few circulating biomarkers for identifying individuals at a higher risk of developing the disease. Successful identification of candidate molecular markers for risk assessment could aid in the early detection of oral lesions and potentially be used for community screening of high-risk populations. OBJECTIVE: Identification of differentially expressed proteins in the serum of oral cancer patients which can serve as biomarkers for the diagnosis of the onset of oral cancer among tobacco users. METHODS: We employed a tandem mass tag (TMT)-based quantitative proteomics approach to study alterations in the serum proteomes of OSCC patients based on their tobacco exposure habits (chewing and smoking) compared to healthy individuals with no history of using any form of tobacco or any symptoms of the disease. RESULTS: Mass spectrometry-based analysis resulted in the identification of distinct signatures in the serum of OSCC patients who either chewed or smoked tobacco. Pathway analysis revealed opposing effects of dysregulated proteins enriched in the complement-coagulation signaling cascades with a high expression of the Serpin family of proteins observed in OSCC patients who chewed tobacco compared to healthy individuals whereas these proteins showed decreased levels in OSCC patients who smoked. ELISA-based validation further confirmed our findings revealing higher expression of SERPINA6 and SERPINF1 across serum of OSCC patients who chewed tobacco compared to healthy individuals. CONCLUSIONS : This study serves as a benchmark for the identification of serum-based protein markers that may aid in the identification of high-risk patients who either chew tobacco or smoke tobacco.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-373
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Biomarkers
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • Oral cancer
  • cigarette smoke
  • mass spectrometry
  • serum proteomics
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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