Squamous cell carcinoma is the most frequent malignant tumor of the oral cavity and often arises from premalignant lesions. Traditional methods used by the pathologist are subjective and lack the sensitivity to predict accurately which precancers may progress with time. Therefore, it is important to search for markers that may identify progression of premalignant lesions. Microarray technology can be use with this aim. Here, we define the genetic expression profile of lingual dysplasia (DS) progression. By using cDNA microarray containing 19.2K clones and a baseline of 11 normal tissues, we compared 5 mild and 4 severe DS. We identified 270 genes differentially expressed in normal tissue vs. mild DS (i.e. 161 up- and 109 down-regulated) and 181 genes differentially expressed in mild vs. severe DS (i.e. 63 up- and 118 down-regulated). The described genes cover a broad range of functional activities: (a) anti-oxidative, (b) DNA-repair, (c) inflammatory response, (d) cell-adhesion/mobility, (e) extracellular matrix depolymerization, and (f) cell-cycle regulation. The data reported better define DS progression and can help in classifying premalignant lesions
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