Reprogramming of cellular energy metabolism, such as lipid metabolism, is a hallmark of squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN). However, whether protein expression related to fatty acid oxidation (FAO) affects survival in SCCHN remains unclear. We aimed to investigate FAO-related enzyme expression and determine its correlation with clinicopathological variables in SCCHN patients. Immunohistochemical analysis (IHC) of FAO-related protein expression, including carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1 (CPT1), the acyl-CoA dehydrogenase family, and fatty acid synthase (FAS), was performed using tissue microarrays from 102 resected SCCHN tumors. Expressions were categorized according to IHC scores, and the statistical association with clinicopathological factors was determined. Moderate-to-high expression of long-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (LCAD) had a protective role against cancer-related death (adjusted hazard ratio (HR), 0.2; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.05-0.87) after covariate adjustment. Age and clinical stage remained independent predictors of survival (adjusted HR, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.22-2.49 for age; adjusted HR, 14.33; 95% CI, 1.89-108.60 for stage III/IV disease). Overexpression of medium-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase and FAS correlated with advanced tumor stage (T3/T4); however, none of these factors were independent predictors of survival. Several FAO-related enzymes were upregulated and LCAD overexpression had a protective effect on overall survival in advanced SCCHN patients. FAO-related-enzyme expression might have a prognostic impact on survival outcomes in SCCHN.
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