High CD133 expression is associated with poorly differentiated and advanced-stage cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) and correlated with poor prognosis in patients with the disease, a new study published online ahead of print in JAMA Dermatology has shown.1

Although the CD133 protein has been considered a key biomarker of cancer stem cells in numerous cancer types, the expression status and prognostic significance of CD133 in cSCC is not clear.

Therefore, researchers performed immunohistochemistry on a tissue microarray to evaluate the expression levels of CD133 in cSCC tissue and investigate whether expression levels are associated with clinicopathological features and outcomes in patients with cSCC.

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For the study, researchers analyzed 165 paraffin-embedded clinicopathological samples from 165 patients with available follow-up data.

Results showed that high CD133 expression was observed in 50.9% of the cSCC samples and in 16.7% of adjacent nonmalignant epithelial tissue samples (P = .001). Researchers observed high CD133 expression in 48.0% of well- to moderately differentiated samples compared with 84.6% of poorly differentiated samples (P = .01).

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High CD133 expression was also found in the 45.5% of stage 1 to 2 samples and 65.9% of stage 3 samples (P = .02). In multivariate analysis, CD133 expression was an independent prognostic factor of cSCC (HR, 1.9152; 95% CI, 1.1950-3.3495; P = .02).

“[The CD133 protein] may serve as a useful biomarker to predict prognosis in patients with cSCC,” the authors concluded.


  1. Xu R, Cai M-Y, Luo R-Z, et al. The expression status and prognostic value of cancer stem cell biomarker CD133 in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma [published online ahead of print November 11, 2015]. JAMA Dermatol. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.3781.