Skip to main content
  • Original article
  • Open access
  • Published:

The prognostic value of Tiam1 protein expression in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: a retrospective study



Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a common cancer worldwide and has a poor prognosis. A biomarker predicting the clinical outcome of HNSCC patients could be useful in guiding treatment planning. Overexpression of the T lymphoma invasion and metastasis 1 (Tiam1) protein has been implicated in the migration and invasion of neoplasms. However, its role in HNSCC progression needs to be further validated. We detected the expression of Tiam1 in normal and tumor tissues and determined its association with clinical outcomes in patients with HNSCC.


We measured the expression of Tiam1 in normal and cancerous tissue samples from the patients with HNSCC treated at Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center between 2001 and 2008. The Tiam1 expression was scored from 0 to 12 based on the percentage of positively stained cells and the staining intensity. We then determined the diagnostic performance of this score in predicting overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS).


Of the 194 evaluable patients, those with advanced disease, lymph node metastasis at diagnosis, and recurrence or metastasis during follow-up had a higher tendency of having high Tiam1 expression as compared with their counterparts (P < 0.05). The proportion of samples with high Tiam1 expression was also higher in cancerous tissues than in non-cancerous tissues (57.7% vs. 13.9%, P < 0.001). Cox proportional hazards regression analysis revealed that Tiam1 expression scores of 5 and greater independently predicted short OS and DFS.


The Tiam1 expression is shown as a promising biomarker of clinical outcomes in patients with HNSCC and should be evaluated in prospective trials.


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the sixth most common cancer worldwide, with approximately 600,000 new cases diagnosed per year [13]. Despite remarkable improvements in diagnosis and treatment, a high recurrence rate has kept the 5-year survival rate at approximately 50% for many years [1, 4]. A biomarker predicting the clinical outcome of HNSCC patients could be useful in guiding treatment.

The Rho-like proteins (Rho, Rac, and Cdc42) are essential regulators of cytoskeleton dynamics [5] and are crucial for malignant cell progression such as mitogenesis, kinase cascade activation, transcriptional activation, and DNA synthesis stimulation [68]. The expression of certain Rho subfamily proteins is elevated in HNSCC cell lines, and RhoA has long been thought to be a promising biomarker in HNSCC [9]. Furthermore, the overexpression of RhoC was greater in advanced HNSCC than in early disease [10]. The activation of Cdc42 is also critical for the invasion of HNSCC cells and is mediated by galectin-1 (Gal-1) and CCL19-induced chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7) [11]. Additionally, Gal-1 overexpression enhances Cdc42 activation and increases lung metastasis in nude mice [12]. Enhanced Rac1 activation in HNSCC cell lines is also associated with a highly invasive and motile tumor cell phenotype [13].

Cycling between the inactive [guanosine diphosphate (GDP)-bound] and active [guanosine triphosphate (GTP)-bound] states of Rho subfamily proteins is regulated by the guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GNEFs) [14]. T lymphoma invasion and metastasis 1 (Tiam1), a member of Dbl gene subfamily of the GNEFs family, is first identified in T lymphocytes [15]. It regulates general Rho proteins [16] with multiple cellular effects [17, 18]. Tiam1 is also important in regulating cell growth, differentiation, and motility [19]. Patel et al. [13] reported that most HNSCC cells exhibited obviously high levels of Rac1 in the active state, and Supriatno et al. [20] elaborated that Tiam1 depletion reduced the migration of oral cancer cells. Moreover, Tiam1 expression affects the migration and invasion of many neoplasms, and high Tiam1 expression has indicated a poor prognosis in various tumors such as nasopharyngeal carcinoma [21, 22], primary gallbladder carcinoma [23], hepatocellular carcinoma [24, 25], papillary thyroid carcinoma [26], esophageal squamous cell carcinoma [27], retinoblastoma [28], and prostate carcinomas [29].

We found only one study that specifically examined Tiam1 expression in laryngeal and hypopharyngeal carcinomas. In tissue samples from 119 patients with HNSCC, Wang et al. [30] found that high Tiam1 expression was significantly associated with lymph node metastasis, clinical disease stage, histological tumor grade, recurrence, and short overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS). In a larger study with longer follow-up, we sought to confirm whether the expression of Tiam1 in several types of HNSCC, especially oral cancer, was associated with disease progression and long-term outcomes.


Patients and specimens

HNSCC patients treated at the Department of Head and Neck Surgery of Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center (Guangzhou, China) between January 2001 and December 2008 were selected retrospectively and randomly by stratified sampling. We defined HNSCC as cancer of the oral cavity, glottis, and supraglottic larynx. The selection criteria were as follows: (1) patients had undergone complete resection, with or without unilateral or bilateral neck dissection; (2) the diagnosis of HNSCC was confirmed by pathology; (3) complete follow-up data and pathologic specimens were available. Patients were ineligible if they had metastasis at the time of diagnosis (stage IVc), had undergone radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy before surgery, or had other concomitant malignant neoplasms or organ disorders. The records of the patients selected for analysis were reviewed, and cancers were restaged according to the 2010 American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM Staging Manual. All hematoxylin and eosin-stained slides were reviewed to verify the diagnosis and adequacy of the specimen for analysis. The appropriate paraffin-embedded specimen blocks for each patient were obtained from the Pathology Department. When possible, adjacent non-cancerous tissue specimens were also processed and compared with cancerous specimens as matched pairs.

Staining and evaluation

The paraffin-embedded blocks were dewaxed and rehydrated, and endogenous peroxidase activity was blocked with 0.3% H2O2 in methanol. The slides were boiled in ethylene diaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) on high power for 5 min and medium–low for 20 min in a microwave for antigen retrieval. Non-specific binding was inhibited with normal goat serum. Then, a primary Tiam1 antibody (sc-872, Santa Cruz Biotechnology, Santa Cruz, CA, USA) was used at 1:125 and stored overnight at 4°C. Subsequently, the slides were incubated with a goat anti-rabbit secondary antibody at 37°C for 30 min. Horseradish peroxidase was applied. Finally, hematoxylin was used to counterstain the nuclei. The negative control was created by omitting the primary antibody.

All slides were interpreted by two independent pathologists in a double-blinded manner. The percentage of cells with positive staining was scored as follows: a positive rate of 0% was scored 0, 1%–10% scored 1, 11%–50% scored 2, 51%–80% scored 3, and >80% scored 4. The intensity was scored 0 for no staining, 1 for weak staining (light yellow), 2 for moderate staining (yellowish brown), and 3 for strong staining (brown) [29]. The scores of proportion and intensity of positively stained tumor cells were multiplied to evaluate the final Tiam1 expression score, which ranged from 0 to 12. If the discrepancy between the two scores for the same specimen was 6 or larger, the pathologists re-evaluated the slide and reached a consensus on the score.

Patient follow-up

All patients had follow-up data through April 2014. Metastasis and recurrence were diagnosed based on clinical examination, imaging assessment, or operation and pathologic examination. OS was calculated from the time of diagnosis to the date of death or the last follow-up visit. DFS was defined as the time between diagnosis and relapse.

Statistical analysis

All data were analyzed with the SPSS 19.0 statistical software package (SPSS, Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve and Youden Index (YI = sensitivity + specificity − 1) [31] were computed to determine the optimal cut-off point for distinguishing between high and low Tiam1 expression. The Chi Square test was used to assess the associations between Tiam1 expression and other characteristics of patients. Survival was analyzed with univariate analysis and Kaplan–Meier survival curves. Univariate associations with P values less than 0.05 were considered in multivariate analysis and Cox proportional hazards models. A two-sided P value less than 0.05 was considered significant.


Patient characteristics

The 194 eligible patients with stages I-IVb HNSCC had a median age of 54 years (range 25–86 years); 150 were men (Table 1). Of the 194 patients, 156 had oral cancers, 11 had supraglottic cancers, and 21 had glottic cancers. Adjuvant radiotherapy was given to 34 (17.5%) patients. The median follow-up time was 79 months (range 3–168 months). Only 14 (7.2%) patients were lost to follow-up. As of the last follow-up visit, 116 (59.8%) patients had local or distant relapse events. The disease-specific mortality was 41.8% (81/194).

Table 1 Associations between T lymphoma invasion and metastasis 1 (Tiam1) expression and clinicopathologic characteristics of the 194 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC)

Cut-off score selection

The ROC curve for the scores of Tiam1 expression was plotted to select the appropriate cut-off score (Fig. 1). The area under the curve was 0.692 [P < 0.001, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.615–0.768]. A Tiam1 score of 5 maximized the Youden Index [sensitivity (0.802) + specificity (0.584) − 1 = 0.386] as the optimal cut-off score. Thus, cases were divided into low (score < 5) and high (score ≥ 5) expression groups.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Selection of the cut-off score for T lymphoma invasion and metastasis 1 (Tiam1) expression by the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis. The area under the curve (AUC) is 0.692. An expression score of 5 maximizes the Youden Index [sensitivity (0.802) + specificity (0.584) − 1 = 0.386]

Tiam1 expression and clinicopathologic factors

The Tiam1 protein was located in the cytoplasm (Fig. 2). The high expression rate was higher in tumor tissues than in the matched non-cancerous tissues (57.7% vs. 13.9%, P < 0.001). High Tiam1 expression was significantly associated with relapse (P < 0.001), lymph node metastasis (P = 0.003), and stage III/IV cancers (P < 0.001) (Table 1). The association between Tiam1 expression and tumor position was marginally significant (P = 0.064).

Fig. 2
figure 2

Tiam1 expression in tumor samples and non-cancerous tissue samples. Tiam1 protein staining mainly distributes in the cytoplasm. a (100×) and b (200×), strong staining of Tiam1 protein in tumor cells. c (100×) and d (200×), moderate staining in tumor cells. e (100×) and f (200×), weak staining in tumor cells. g (100×) and h (200×), no Tiam1 protein staining is present in the non-carcinoma epithelium

Predictive value of the Tiam1 expression score

The 1-, 3-, and 5-year OS rates of all patients were 91.8, 70.5, and 64.7%, respectively. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year DFS rates were 64.8%, 48.1%, 43.2%, respectively. The relapse rate was higher in the high Tiam1 expression group than in the low Tiam1 expression group (70.5% vs. 45.1%, P < 0.001), as was the mortality (58.0% vs. 19.5%, P < 0.001). In the high Tiam1 expression group, the median OS was 61.5 months (95% CI 41.3–81.7 months), and the median DFS was 15.2 months (95% CI 6.7–23.7 months). The 5-year OS and DFS rates were 51.8% and 31.0%, respectively. The low Tiam1 expression group had a rather improved long-term survival: the 5-year OS and DFS rates were 82.7% and 60.0%, respectively. High Tiam1 expression predicted short OS and DFS (both P < 0.001, Fig. 3). In univariate survival analysis, patients using tobacco and alcohol with poorly differentiated tumors, lymph node metastasis, and stage III or IV disease had shorter OS survival, and patients with poorly differentiated tumors, no neck dissection, advanced disease, and oral cavity cancer had shorter DFS than their counterparts (Table 2). Cox proportional hazards analysis revealed that high Tiam1 expression independently predicted short OS and DFS (P < 0.001), as did advanced disease and alcohol use (Table 3).

Fig. 3
figure 3

Survival curves of 194 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, stratified by Tiam1 expression score. a overall survival; b disease-free survival

Table 2 Univariate survival analysis of 194 HNSCC patients
Table 3 Multivariate survival analysis of 194 HNSCC patients


We confirmed that a larger proportion of HNSCC tissue samples had high Tiam1 expression compared with non-cancerous tissue samples (57.7% vs. 13.9%, P < 0.001). High Tiam1 expression was also associated with higher relapse rates, higher mortality, lymph node metastasis, and stage III/IV cancers as compared with low Tiam1 expression (all P < 0.05).

The Rho-like proteins are crucial for malignant cell progression [6, 8], and many Rho subfamily proteins have been thought to be biomarkers of HNSCC [912]. Tiam1 is a general guanine nucleotide exchange factor that regulates Rho proteins with multiple effects [17, 18]; thus, alterations in its expression might contribute to tumor occurrence, progression, and migration [18, 19, 27].

The prognosis of HNSCC patients is mainly determined by disease stage, lymph node status, and other advanced disease characteristics at diagnosis [32]. Through a great number of epidemiologic investigations, betel nut chewing [33], tobacco use, and alcohol intake [34, 35] have been established as major risk factors for HNSCC. Strong links have also been found between HNSCC and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection [36], Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection [37], and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) overexpression [38]. In the present study, both the univariate and multivariate analyses confirmed that alcohol use and stage III/IV cancer are independent risk factors for poor prognosis. Due to the insufficient number of cases and restrictions in experimental conditions, we did not find a relationship between any other characteristics and long-term survival. In our study, Cox regression analysis showed that Tiam1 overexpression significantly predicted short DFS and OS (both P < 0.05). Our data confirmed that Tiam1 overexpression indicates a poor prognosis for HNSCC patients. Wang et al. [30] also found that high Tiam1 expression was associated with short DFS and OS in patients with HNSCC. There are still differences between our study and their study. On the one hand, their samples comprised patients with laryngeal and hypopharyngeal carcinoma, whereas we selected mainly patients with oral cancer and a few people with glottal and supraglottic laryngeal cancer. On the other hand, our study had a longer follow-up and larger sample size than theirs.

On the basis of these results, we boldly considered that Tiam1 overexpression in HNSCC patients might be used as a promising biomarker to identify high-risk patients to aid in the design of optimal individual treatments. However, we failed to develop a prospective study. As a retrospective investigation, our study is limited by the deficiency of large-scale screening. Although we found a possible relationship between Tiam1 overexpression and the invasiveness and metastasis of HNSCC, the underlying mechanisms are unclear.


Our findings confirm that high Tiam1 expression in the carcinomas of the oral cavity, glottis, and supraglottic larynx predicts poor clinical outcomes, suggesting that Tiam1 might be a new molecular biomarker of this disease. If so, patients with high Tiam1 expression should receive more aggressive therapy and closer follow-up. Tiam1 may also represent a new molecular target for tumor therapy. Tiam1 expression shows promise as a biomarker in patients with HNSCC and should be evaluated in prospective trials.


  1. Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2015. CA Cancer J Clin. 2015;65(1):5–29.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Torre LA, Bray F, Siegel RL, Ferlay J, Lortet-Tieulent J, Jemal A. Global cancer statistics, 2012. CA Cancer J Clin. 2015;65(2):87–108.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Wong IC, Ng YK, Lui VW. Cancers of the lung, head and neck on the rise: perspectives on the genotoxicity of air pollution. Chin J Cancer. 2014;33(10):476–80.

    PubMed Central  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Wang B, Zhang S, Yue K, Wang XD. The recurrence and survival of oral squamous cell carcinoma: a report of 275 cases. Chin J Cancer. 2013;32(11):614–8.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Hall A. Rho GTPases and the actin cytoskeleton. Science. 1998;279(5350):509–14.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Fukata M, Nakagawa M, Kaibuchi K. Roles of Rho-family GTPases in cell polarisation and directional migration. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2003;15(5):590–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Habets GG, van der Kammen RA, Stam JC, Michiels F, Collard JG. Sequence of the human invasion-inducing TIAM1 gene, its conservation in evolution and its expression in tumor cell lines of different tissue origin. Oncogene. 1995;10(7):1371–6.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Jaffe AB, Hall A. Rho GTPases: biochemistry and biology. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2005;21:247–69.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Abraham MT, Kuriakose MA, Sacks PG, Yee H, Chiriboga L, Bearer EL, et al. Motility-related proteins as markers for head and neck squamous cell cancer. Laryngoscope. 2001;111(7):1285–9.

    Article  PubMed Central  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Kleer CG, Teknos TN, Islam M, Marcus B, Lee JS, Pan Q, et al. RhoC GTPase expression as a potential marker of lymph node metastasis in squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Clin Cancer Res. 2006;12(15):4485–90.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Chiang WF, Liu SY, Fang LY, Lin CN, Wu MH, Chen YC, et al. Overexpression of galectin-1 at the tumor invasion front is associated with poor prognosis in early-stage oral squamous cell carcinoma. Oral Oncol. 2008;44(4):325–34.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Wu MH, Hong TM, Cheng HW, Pan SH, Liang YR, Hong HC, et al. Galectin-1-mediated tumor invasion and metastasis, up-regulated matrix metalloproteinase expression, and reorganized actin cytoskeletons. Mol Cancer Res. 2009;7(3):311–8.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Patel V, Rosenfeldt HM, Lyons R, Servitja JM, Bustelo XR, Siroff M, et al. Persistent activation of Rac1 in squamous carcinomas of the head and neck: evidence for an EGFR/Vav2 signaling axis involved in cell invasion. Carcinogenesis. 2007;28(6):1145–52.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Boguski MS, McCormick F. Proteins regulating Ras and its relatives. Nature. 1993;366(6456):643–54.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Habets GG, Scholtes EH, Zuydgeest D, van der Kammen RA, Stam JC, Berns A, et al. Identification of an invasion-inducing gene, Tiam-1, that encodes a protein with homology to GDP-GTP exchangers for Rho-like proteins. Cell. 1994;77(4):537–49.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Mertens AE, Roovers RC, Collard JG. Regulation of Tiam1-Rac signalling. FEBS Lett. 2003;546(1):11–6.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Buchsbaum RJ, Connolly BA, Feig LA. Interaction of Rac exchange factors Tiam1 and Ras-GRF1 with a scaffold for the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade. Mol Cell Biol. 2002;22(12):4073–85.

    Article  PubMed Central  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Michiels F, Habets GG, Stam JC, van der Kammen RA, Collard JG. A role for Rac in Tiam1-induced membrane ruffling and invasion. Nature. 1995;375(6529):338–40.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Minard ME, Kim LS, Price JE, Gallick GE. The role of the guanine nucleotide exchange factor Tiam1 in cellular migration, invasion, adhesion and tumor progression. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2004;84(1):21–32.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Supriatno, Harada K, Kawaguchi S, Yoshida H, Sato M. Effect of p27Kip1 on the ability of invasion and metastasis of an oral cancer cell line. Oncol Rep. 2003; 10(3):527–32.

  21. Ding Y, Chen B, Huang J, Zhang W, Yang H, Deng Y, et al. Overexpression of Tiam1 is associated with malignant phenotypes of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Oncol Rep. 2014;32(2):607–18.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Qi Y, Huang B, Yu L, Wang Q, Lan G, Zhang Q. Prognostic value of Tiam1 and Rac1 overexpression in nasopharyngeal carcinoma. ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec. 2009;71(3):163–71.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Du X, Wang S, Lu J, Wang Q, Song N, Yang T, et al. Clinical value of Tiam1-Rac1 signaling in primary gallbladder carcinoma. Med Oncol. 2012;29(3):1873–8.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Ding Y, Chen B, Wang S, Zhao L, Chen J, Ding Y, et al. Overexpression of Tiam1 in hepatocellular carcinomas predicts poor prognosis of HCC patients. Int J Cancer. 2009;124(3):653–8.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Yang W, Lv S, Liu X, Liu H, Yang W, Hu F. Up-regulation of Tiam1 and Rac1 correlates with poor prognosis in hepatocellular carcinoma. Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2010;40(11):1053–9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Hsueh C, Lin JD, Yang CF, Chang YS, Chao TC, Sun JH, et al. Prognostic significance of Tiam1 expression in papillary thyroid carcinoma. Virchows Arch. 2011;459(6):587–93.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Liu H, Shi G, Liu X, Wu H, Fan Q, Wang X. Overexpression of Tiam1 predicts poor prognosis in patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Oncol Rep. 2011;25(3):841–8.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Adithi M, Venkatesan N, Kandalam M, Biswas J, Krishnakumar S. Expressions of Rac1, Tiam1 and Cdc42 in retinoblastoma. Exp Eye Res. 2006;83(6):1446–52.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Engers R, Mueller M, Walter A, Collard JG, Willers R, Gabbert HE. Prognostic relevance of Tiam1 protein expression in prostate carcinomas. Br J Cancer. 2006;95(8):1081–6.

    Article  PubMed Central  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Wang S, Li S, Yang X, Yang S, Liu S, Liu B, et al. Elevated expression of T-lymphoma invasion and metastasis inducing factor 1 in squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck and its clinical significance. Eur J Cancer. 2014;50(2):379–87.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Fluss R, Faraggi D, Reiser B. Estimation of the Youden Index and its associated cutoff point. Biom J. 2005;47(4):458–72.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Mamelle G, Pampurik J, Luboinski B, Lancar R, Lusinchi A, Bosq J. Lymph node prognostic factors in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. Am J Surg. 1994;168(5):494–8.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Lee CH, Ko AM, Yen CF, Chu KS, Gao YJ, Warnakulasuriya S, et al. Betel-quid dependence and oral potentially malignant disorders in six Asian countries. Br J Psychiatry. 2012;201(5):383–91.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Decker J, Goldstein JC. Risk factors in head and neck cancer. N Engl J Med. 1982;306(19):1151–5.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  35. Neville BW, Day TA. Oral cancer and precancerous lesions. CA Cancer J Clin. 2002;52(4):195–215.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Mork J, Lie AK, Glattre E, Hallmans G, Jellum E, Koskela P, et al. Human papillomavirus infection as a risk factor for squamous-cell carcinoma of the head and neck. N Engl J Med. 2001;344(15):1125–31.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Lin JC, Wang WY, Chen KY, Wei YH, Liang WM, Jan JS, et al. Quantification of plasma Epstein-Barr virus DNA in patients with advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma. N Engl J Med. 2004;350(24):2461–70.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Pomerantz RG, Grandis JR. The role of epidermal growth factor receptor in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Curr Oncol Rep. 2003;5(2):140–6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors’ contributions

WQJ and YXS designed the study. HY and YCC performed the immunohistochemistry (IHC) studies, participated in patient selection, and drafted the manuscript. YC and MS performed the statistical analysis and contributed to the IHC studies. YX and XA helped draft the manuscript. JW assisted in patient selection. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This work was supported by grants from the Scientific Research Foundation for the Returned Overseas Chinese Scholars of Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center and from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30500610). We thank all the researchers, including the physicians, pathologists, and technicians involved in this study.

Compliance with ethical guidelines

Competing interests The authors declare that they have no competing interests

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Wen-Qi Jiang or Yan-Xia Shi.

Additional information

Hang Yang and Yu-Chen Cai contributed equally to this study

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Yang, H., Cai, YC., Cao, Y. et al. The prognostic value of Tiam1 protein expression in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: a retrospective study. Chin J Cancer 34, 51 (2015).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: