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Tobacco is a risk factor of head and neck cancer (HNC) and smoking cessation alone may reduce HNC risk by 70%. Soluble CD44 (solCD44), a cell surface receptor linked to cell proliferation and migration, and total protein (TP) levels can detect early HNC. This study aims to determine whether salivary solCD44 and TP levels in oral rinses change following a smoking cessation program. 150 smokers provided oral rinse samples at baseline and at a 12-month follow-up after participation in a smoking cessation program. Assays to measure levels of solCD44, TP, and cotinine, a metabolite used as a biomarker of tobacco exposure, were completed. A paired-samples t-test was used to determine whether there was a statistically significant ( < 0.05) mean difference in biomarker levels before and after the program. Baseline and at 12-month follow-up data were available for 88 subjects, 21 of whom quit smoking entirely. Mean levels of solCD44 significantly decreased by 0.412 ng/mL from baseline to the 12-month follow-up, = 0.010. There was no significant difference in mean TP levels, = 0.975. Mean cotinine levels decreased significantly by 74.7 ng/mL, = 0.035. This is the first work demonstrating an association between smoking cessation and decreased solCD44 levels in oral rinses. Decreased expression of the tumorigenic CD44 may be one mechanism by which smoking cessation lowers cancer risk.


34948786 (pubmed); ijerph182413174 (pii); 10.3390/ijerph182413174 (doi); PMC8700947 (pmc)

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