Detection of a large spectrum of viral infections in conjunctival premalignant and malignant lesions

Luisa Galati, Jean Damien Combes, Purnima Gupta, Rajdip Sen, Alexis Robitaille, Rosario Nicola Brancaccio, Kueshivi Atsou, Cyrille Cuenin, Sandrine McKay-Chopin, Maria Lina Tornesello, Franco Maria Buonaguro, Gary Clifford, Tarik Gheit, Massimo Tommasino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To study the interaction between HIV and other carcinogenic infections in conjunctival squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), we evaluated the presence of a broad spectrum of human viruses in conjunctiva specimens. Beta Human papillomavirus (HPV; n = 46), gamma HPV (n = 52), polyomaviruses (n = 12) and herpes viruses (n = 3) was determined in DNA extracted from 67 neoplastic and 55 non-neoplastic conjunctival tissues of HIV-positive and HIV negative subjects by Luminex-based assays. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) was also used to further characterize the presence of cutaneous HPVs. Detection of beta-2 HPV infections was associated with the risk of neoplasia (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 3.0; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3-6.8), regardless of HIV status (HIV positive, aOR 2.6, 95% CI 0.9-7.7; HIV negative, aOR 3.5, 95% CI 0.9-14.4). EBV was strongly associated with the risk of neoplasia (aOR 12.0, 95% CI 4.3-33.5; P <.01) mainly in HIV individuals (HIV positive, aOR 57.5; 95% CI: 10.1-327.1; HIV negative aOR 2.6; 95% CI: 0.2-34.7). NGS allowed to identify 13 putative novel HPVs in cases and controls. Our findings suggest a role of beta HPV types and EBV, in conjunctival SCC. However, additional studies of viral expression in tumor tissue are required to confirm the causal association.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • conjunctiva SCC
  • EBV
  • HPV
  • next-generation sequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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