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Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2011 Apr-Jun;24(2 Suppl):95-101.

Double demonstration of oncogenic high risk human papilloma virus DNA and HPV-E7 protein in oral cancers.

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  • 1Department of Surgical Sciences, Section of Anatomic Pathology and Cytopathology, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy.


Oncogenic HPVs are necessarily involved in cervical cancer but their role in oral carcinogenesis is debated. To detect HPV in oral cancer, 38 cases of formalin fixed-paraffin embedded OSCC were studied by both DNA genotyping (MY09/11 L1 consensus primers in combination with GP5-GP6 primer pair followed by sequencing) and immunohistochemistry (monoclonal Abs against capsid protein and HPV-E7 protein, K1H8 DAKO and clone 8C9 INVITROGEN, respectively). HPV-16 tonsil cancer was used as positive control. The overall prevalence of HPV infection in OSCCs was 10.5%. Amplification of DNA samples showed single HPV DNA infection in 3 cases (HPV16; HPV53; HPV70) and double infection in one case of cheek cancer (HPV31/HPV44). The overall HR-HPV prevalence was 7.5%. E-7 antigen was immunohistochemically detected in all HPV-positive cases. HPV+ OSCC cases showed an overall better outcome than HPV negative oral cancers, as evaluated by Kaplan-Meier curves. HPVs exert their oncogenic role after DNA integration, gene expression of E5, E6 and E7 loci and p53/pRb host proteins suppression. This study showed that HPV-E7 protein inactivating pRb is expressed in oral cancer cells infected by oncogenic HPV other than classical HR-HPV-16/18. Interestingly HPV-70, considered a low risk virus with no definite collocation in oncogenic type category, gives rise to the expression of HPV-E7 protein and inactivate pRb in oral cancer. HPV-70, as proved in current literature, is able to inactivates also p53 protein, promoting cell immortalization. HPV-53, classified as a possible high risk virus, expresses E7 protein in OSCC, contributing to oral carcinogenesis. We have identified among OSCCs, a subgroup characterized by HPV infection (10.5%). Finally, we have proved the oncogenic potential of some HPV virus types, not well known in literature.

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