Salivary Interleukin Levels in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Oral Epithelial Dysplasia: Findings from a Sri Lankan Study

Nadisha Sewwandi Piyarathne, Manjula Weerasekera, P.F.D. Fonseka,, A.H.T. S Karunatilleke,, R. L. Pemith Liyanage, Ruwan Duminda Jayasinghe, Kanishka De Silva, Surangi Yasawardene, Ekta Gupta, J.A.P. Jayasinghe, Rasha Abu Eid* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


The incidence of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC), and its precursor, oral epithelial dysplasia (OED), is on the rise, especially in South Asia. OSCC is the leading cancer in males in Sri Lanka, with >80% diagnosed at advanced clinical stages. Early detection is paramount to improve patient outcome, and saliva testing is a promising non-invasive tool. The aim of this study was to assess salivary interleukins (lL1β, IL6, and IL8) in OSCC, OED and disease-free controls in a Sri Lankan study cohort. A case-control study with OSCC (n = 37), OED (n = 30) patients and disease-free controls (n = 30) was conducted. Salivary lL1β, IL6, and IL8 were quantified using enzyme-linked immuno-sorbent assay. Comparisons between different diagnostic groups and potential correlations to risk factors were assessed. Salivary levels for the three tested interleukins increased from disease-free controls through OED, and were highest in OSCC samples. Furthermore, the levels of IL1β, IL6, and IL8 increased progressively with OED grade. The discrimination between patients (OSCC and OED) and controls, as assessed by AUC of receiver operating characteristic curves, was 0.9 for IL8 (p = 0.0001) and 0.8 for IL6 (p = 0.0001), while IL1β differentiated OSCC from controls (AUC 0.7, p = 0.006). No significant associations were found between salivary interleukin levels and smoking, alcohol, and betel quid risk factors. Our findings suggest that salivary IL1β, IL6, and IL8 are associated with disease severity of OED, and are potential biomarkers for predicting disease progression in OED, and the screening of OSCC.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1510
Number of pages13
Early online date28 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank the laboratory staff at the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Gangodawila, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka. The authors would like to thank Thilini Nisansala and Chamikara Liyanage for their help in the laboratory analysis.
N.S.P. was financially supported by the Elphinstone Scholarship, University of Aberdeen, UK and the University Grants Commission, Sri Lanka.


  • saliva
  • biomarkers
  • Oral squamous cell carcinoma
  • oral epithelial dysplasia
  • interleukins


Dive into the research topics of 'Salivary Interleukin Levels in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Oral Epithelial Dysplasia: Findings from a Sri Lankan Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this