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Br J Cancer. 2011 Apr 12;104(8):1334-41. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.95. Epub 2011 Mar 22.

High-risk human papillomavirus in non-melanoma skin lesions from renal allograft recipients and immunocompetent patients.

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Department of Applied Tumor Biology, Institute of Pathology, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 220, Heidelberg 69120, Germany.



High-risk human papillomaviruses (HR-HPVs) can be detected in a proportion of non-melanoma skin cancers. Data on prevalence are inconclusive, but are essential to estimate the relevance of HR-HPV, particularly with regard to prophylactic HPV vaccines for skin cancer prevention.


High-risk human papillomavirus DNA was investigated in 140 non-melanoma skin lesions from 54 immunocompetent patients and 33 immunosuppressed renal allograft recipients. Expression of p16(INK4a), a marker for HR-HPV oncogene expression in the uterine cervix, and of p53 and pRB was evaluated immunohistochemically.


The highest prevalence of HR-HPV was found in squamous cell cancer (SCC) (46.2% (6 out of 13) in immunosuppressed and 23.5% (4 out of 17) in immunocompetent patients). High-risk human papillomavirus positivity was accompanied by diffuse p16(INK4a) expression in most SCC (P<0.001) and basal cell cancers (P=0.02), while almost all SCC in situ were p16(INK4a) positive irrespective of HR-HPV presence (P=0.66). Diffuse p16(INK4a) expression was associated with lack of pRB expression (P=0.001). p53 was strongly expressed in 40.0% (56 out of 140) of the lesions irrespective of HR-HPV presence.


High-risk human papillomavirus can be detected in lesions of keratinised squamous epithelia. The association of HR-HPV with diffuse p16(INK4a) expression might indicate HR-HPV oncogene expression in a proportion of lesions. Overexpression of p53 suggests p53 pathway alterations in HR-HPV-positive and -negative lesions.

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