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Clin Cancer Res. 2017 Jun 1;23(11):2723-2729. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-16-1617. Epub 2016 Nov 21.

E6 and E7 Antibody Levels Are Potential Biomarkers of Recurrence in Patients with Advanced-Stage Human Papillomavirus-Positive Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

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University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Moores Cancer Center, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California.
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
University of Michigan High-throughput Protein Laboratory, Center for Structural Biology, Life Sciences Institute, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Purpose: There is a paucity of biomarkers to predict failure in human papillomavirus-positive (HPV+) oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) following curative therapy. E6/E7 viral oncoproteins are constitutively expressed in HPV+ tumors and highly immunogenic, resulting in readily detected serum antibodies. The purpose of this study is to determine whether serum E6 and E7 antibody levels can potentially serve as a biomarker of recurrence in patients with HPV+OPSCC.Experimental Design: We evaluated E6/E7 antibody levels in patients with previously untreated, advanced stage (III, IVa-b), HPV+OPSCC receiving definitive chemoradiation under a uniform protocol from 2003 to 2010. Baseline and longitudinal serum samples were obtained from our archived repository. E6/E7 serum levels were measured using a glutathione-S-transferase capture ELISA and quantified by approximating the area under the dilution curve, and were analyzed using ANOVA and linear mixed model for longitudinal analysis.Results: We compared 22 HPV+OPSCC patients who developed recurrence with 30 patients who remained disease-free. There were no differences in T classification, N classification, disease subsite, or smoking status between the groups. In a longitudinal analysis, recurrent patients had significantly higher E6 and E7 serum antibody levels than the nonrecurrent patients over the follow-up period (P = 0.02 and P = 0.002, respectively). Patients who recurred had a lower clearance of E7 antibody than patients who remained disease-free (P = 0.0016).Conclusions: Patients with HPV+OPSCC whose disease recurs have a lower clearance of E6 and E7 antibodies than patients who do not have recurrence. The ratio of E7 antibody at disease recurrence compared with baseline is potentially a clinically significant measurement of disease status in HPV+OPSCC. Clin Cancer Res; 23(11); 2723-9. ©2016 AACR.

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