Association of human papillomavirus integration with better patient outcomes in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.
BACKGROUND: The molecular drivers of human papillomavirus-related head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HPV + HNSCC) are not entirely understood. This study evaluated the relationship between HPV integration, expression of E6/E7, and patient outcomes in p16+ HNSCCs.
METHODS: HPV type was determined by HPV PCR-MassArray, and integration was called using detection of integrated papillomavirus sequences polymerase chain reaction (PCR). We investigated whether fusion transcripts were produced by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). E6/E7 expression was assessed by quantitative RT-PCR. We assessed if there was a relationship between integration and E6/E7 expression, clinical variables, or patient outcomes.
RESULTS: Most samples demonstrated HPV integration, which sometimes resulted in a fusion transcript. HPV integration was positively correlated with age at diagnosis and E6/E7 expression. There was a significant difference in survival between patients with vs without integration.
CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to previous reports, HPV integration was associated with improved patient survival. Therefore, HPV integration may act as a molecular marker of good prognosis.