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Br J Cancer. 2012 Apr 24;106(9):1526-34. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2012.109.

The role of miRNAs in human papilloma virus (HPV)-associated cancers: bridging between HPV-related head and neck cancer and cervical cancer.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery and Audiology, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.



Although the role of human papilloma virus (HPV) in cervical squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) is well established, the role in head and neck SCC (HNSCC) is less clear. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have a role in the cancer development, and HPV status may affect the miRNA expression pattern in HNSCC. To explore the influence of HPV in HNSCC, we made a comparative miRNA profile of HPV-positive (HPV+) and HPV-negative (HPV-) HNSCC against CSCC.


Fresh frozen and laser microdissected-paraffin-embedded samples obtained from patients with HPV+/HPV- HNSCC, CSCC and controls were used for microarray analysis. Differentially expressed miRNAs in the HPV+ and HPV- HNSCC samples were compared with the differentially expressed miRNAs in the CSCC samples.


Human papilloma virus positive (+) HNSCC had a distinct miRNA profile compared with HPV- HNSCC. Significantly more similarity was seen between HPV+ HNSCC and CSCC than HPV- and CSCC. A set of HPV core miRNAs were identified. Of these especially the miR-15a/miR-16/miR195/miR-497 family, miR-143/miR-145 and the miR-106-363 cluster appear to be important within the known HPV pathogenesis.


This study adds new knowledge to the known pathogenic pathways of HPV and substantiates the oncogenic role of HPV in subsets of HNSCCs.

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