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Br J Cancer. 1997; 76(6): 770–776.
PMCID: PMC2228030

Genomic alterations in nasopharyngeal carcinoma: loss of heterozygosity and Epstein-Barr virus infection.


Nasopharyngeal carcinoma is a subset of head and neck squamous cell cancers with unique endemic distribution and aetiological co-factors. Epstein-Barr virus has been revealed to be an important aetiological factor for most nasopharyngeal carcinomas. Nevertheless, additional genetic alterations may be involved in their development and progression. The aim of this study was to determine the likely chromosomal locations of tumour-suppressor genes related to Epstein-Barr virus-associated nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Fifty-six microsatellite polymorphic markers located on every autosomal arm were used to estimate the incidence of loss of heterozygosity in 27 Epstein-Barr virus-associated nasopharyngeal carcinomas. High frequencies of allelic loss were observed on chromosome 3p (75.0%) and 9p (87.0%). Chromosome 9q, 11q, 13q and 14q displayed loss in over 50%, while chromosome 3q, 6p, 16q, 19q and 22q exhibited loss in 35-50%. Furthermore, several other chromosomal arms demonstrated allelic loss in 20-35%. Additionally, 1 of the 27 cases showed microsatellite instability at multiple loci. These findings provide evidence of multiple genetic alterations during cancer development and clues for further studies of tumour-suppressor genes in Epstein-Barr virus-associated nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

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