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Virchows Arch. 2008 Apr;452(4):405-10. doi: 10.1007/s00428-007-0534-0. Epub 2008 Feb 19.

High JC virus load in tongue carcinomas may be a risk factor for tongue tumorigenesis.

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Department of Diagnostic Pathology, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Toyama, 2630 Sugitani, Toyama, 930-0194, Japan.


The John Cunningham virus (JCV) asymptomatically infects a large proportion (approximately 90%) of the population worldwide but may be activated in immunodeficient patients, resulting in progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Recent reports demonstrated its oncogenic role in malignancies. In this paper, the presence of JCV-targeting T antigen was investigated in tongue carcinoma (TC, n = 39), dysplastic tongue epithelium (DTE, n = 15) and glossitis (n = 15) using real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and in situ PCR and immunohistochemistry, and JCV copies were analyzed with the clinicopathological parameters of TCs. The results demonstrated that glossitis and DTEs had significantly lower copies of JCV (410.5 +/- 44.3 and 658.3 +/- 53.3 copies/mug DNA respectively) than TCs (981.5 +/- 14.0, p < 0.05). When they were divided into three groups with 0-200 copies/mug DNA (low), 201-1,000 (moderate) and more than 1001 (high), TCs showed 3 (7.6%) in the low group, 21 (53.8%) in the moderate group and 15 (38.4%) in the high group and glossitis showed 11 (73.3%) in the low group, 0 (0%) in the moderate group and 4 (26.6%) in the high group. The DTEs occupied an intermediate position between them (p < 0.001). In situ PCR demonstrated that the nuclei of TC and DTE cells are sporadically T-antigen positive but not in nasal turbinate epithelial cells. Immunohistochemistry for T-antigen protein revealed four positive cases only in TCs. The existence of JCV T-antigen DNA was not associated with the clinicopathological variables of TCs. In conclusion, the presence of JCV may be a risk factor of tongue carcinogenesis.

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