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Head Neck. 2001 Aug;23(8):629-36.

Association of p53 and BCL-2 expression with Epstein-Barr virus infection in the cancers of head and neck.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, 28 Yongon-dong, Chongno-gu, Seoul 110-799, Korea.



Reports that have both evaluated the site-specific Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection and compared it with the expression of the EBV-related proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in the various cancers of head and neck are scarce.


Thirty-eight nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cases, 32 oropharyngeal or hypopharyngeal carcinoma (OPC/HPC) cases, and 93 laryngeal carcinoma (LC) cases were evaluated with in situ hybridization on EBV-encoded small RNA (EBER) and immunohistochemical assessments of the p53, bcl-2, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) by use of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue array slides.


The expression of viral EBERs was observed in more than two thirds (71.1%) of the NPC cases. In contrast, only 1 case of OPC and none of the HPC or LC cases exhibited EBV positivity. In the nonkeratinizing NPC, the EBV positivity was significantly associated with both frequent p53 overexpression (p =.033) and bcl-2 expression (p =.001). In the EBV-positive nonkeratinizing NPC, a correlation between p53 overexpression and the tumor infiltration lymphocyte (TIL) density was noted (p =.012).


A site-specific expression of viral EBER was demonstrated in the head and neck cancers, which suggests an important role for both p53 and bcl-2 in the carcinogenesis of an EBV-infected NPC. The correlation between p53 overexpression and the TIL density in the EBV-infected NPC suggests that the product of a lymphoepithelial interaction, such as A20, can induce a dysfunctional p53 protein.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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