Send to

Choose Destination
Cancer. 2019 Jul 16. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32369. [Epub ahead of print]

Biliary reflux as a causal factor in hypopharyngeal carcinoma: New clinical evidence and implications.

Author information

The Yale Larynx Laboratory, Department of Surgery, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.
Department of Pathology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.



Recent preclinical explorations strongly support the tumorigenic potential of bile on laryngopharyngeal mucosa. Herein, the authors describe, in bile-related human hypopharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (HSCC), NF-κB-related messenger RNA (mRNA) and microRNA (miRNA) oncogenic phenotypes similar to those previously identified in acidic bile-exposed premalignant murine hypopharyngeal mucosa.


In this pilot study, the authors included human HSCC specimens paired with their adjacent normal tissue (ANT) derived from 3 representative patients with documented biliary laryngopharyngeal reflux (bile[+]) compared with 5 control patients without signs of bile reflux disease (bile[-]). Immunohistochemical, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and miRNA analyses were used to detect the levels of activated NF-κB and expression levels of STAT3, EGFR, BCL2, WNT5A, IL-6, IL-1B, ΔNp63, cREL, TNF-α, TP53, NOTCH1, NOTCH2, NOTCH3, miR-21, miR-155, miR-192, miR-34a, miR-375, miR-451a, miR-489, miR-504, and miR-99a.


Bile(+) HSCC demonstrated an intense NF-κB activation accompanied by significant overexpression of RELA(p65), EGFR, STAT3, BCL-2, cREL, ΔNp63, WNT5A, IL-6, and IL1B; upregulation of oncomir miR-21; and downregulation of tumor suppressor miR-375 compared with their respective ANTs. Bile(+) HSCC demonstrated significantly higher mRNA levels of all the analyzed genes, particularly RELA(p65), IL-6, EGFR, and TNF-α compared with bile(-) tumors. The miR-21/miR-375 ratio, which previously has been linked to tumor aggressiveness, was found to be >260-fold and >30-fold higher, respectively, in bile(+) HSCCs compared with their ANTs and bile(-) tumors.


Although limitations apply to this pilot study due to the small number of patients with HSCC, the novel findings suggest that a history of bile as a component of esophageal reflux disease may represent an independent risk factor for hypopharyngeal carcinogenesis.


NF-κB; bile reflux; hypopharyngeal cancer; miR-21; miR-375


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center