Telomerase activity is frequently found in metaplastic and malignant human nasopharyngeal tissues.Br J Cancer. 2000 Jun; 82(12):1946-51.BJ
Telomerase is a specialized ribonucleoprotein polymerase that directs the synthesis of telomere repeats at chromosome ends. Accumulating evidence has indicated that telomerase is stringently repressed in normal human somatic tissues but reactivated in cancers and immortal cells, suggesting that reactivation of telomerase plays an important role in carcinogenesis. In this study, the status of telomerase activity in diseased human nasopharyngeal lesions was determined by the telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP). Fifty-four patients participated including 17 inflammation or hyperplasia, eight with squamous metaplasia, and 29 with different stages of carcinomas. Telomerase activity was detected in 1 of 17 (5.9%) inflammatory or lymphoid hyperplastic tissues, 3 of 8 (37.5%) squamous metaplastic, and 25 of 29 (86.2%) carcinoma tissues. The differences in telomerase expression in these groups is statistically significant (P < 0.001). Levels of telomerase activity correlated with tumour stage (P = 0.024). These results suggest that telomerase reactivation plays a role in the carcinogenesis of nasopharyngeal cancer. Since telomerase activity is found in the majority of nasopharyngeal cancers and a subset of metaplasia, this enzyme may be served as a reference to monitoring the status of abnormal nasopharyngeal tissues.