An impressive variety of regulatory processes including cell adhesion and migration, proliferation, apoptosis and differentiation folding and routing of glycoproteins have been found to be mediated by specific lectin-carbohydrate interactions. This article summarizes the data on glycobiological aspects of differentiation of squamous epithelia in the head and neck region under physiological conditions and in cancer. The possible function of lectins in tumor development and invasiveness is debated. Introduction of labeled endogenous lectins as a tool for the study of functional glycomics at the cellular level in head and neck squamous epithelia and carcinomas enables a complex interpretation of studied data because these lectins are normally occurring in these tissues. The lectinology of Langerhans cells in head and neck squamous epithelia and carcinoma is also mentioned. Finally, the use of the described data in the diagnosis and prospectively in the treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma is shown.

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