Low prevalence of HPV-driven head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in North-East Italy

Lorena Baboci, Dana Holzinger, Paolo Boscolo-Rizzo, Giancarlo Tirelli, Roberto Spinato, Valentina Lupato, Roberto Fuson, Markus Schmitt, Angelika Michel, Gordana Halec, Maria Cristina Da Mosto, Michael Pawlita, Annarosa Del Mistro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives To investigate the frequency of Human papillomavirus (HPV)-driven head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) among patients living in North-East Italy, by assessing HPV-DNA positivity in all tumors and additional markers whenever possible. Material and methods HPV types, viral load, viral RNA, HPV16/18 E6 protein and p16INK4a and pRb expression were determined in primary tumor tissues from 247 HNSCC patients. Tumor-specific HPV seropositivity was analyzed in 102 patients. Results Tumor HPV-DNA prevalence was 8.5% overall (21/247) and 27% in oropharynx (17/63). HPV16 accounted for 95% of all HPV types found. Among HPV-DNA+ tumors, type-concordant HPV E6*I RNA prevalence was 79%. HPV DNA+ RNA+ tumors showed high viral load, up-regulated p16INK4a, down-regulated pRb and presence of HPV16 E6 protein. Eight cases showed tumor-specific HPV seropositivity, all type-concordant with the tumor. Tumors were defined as HPV-driven when positive for HPV-DNA plus 2 additional HPV transformation-related markers. Conclusion Relative prevalence of HPV-driven tumors (14 HPV16, 1 HPV58) was 6% overall and 20% among oropharyngeal cancers. In the oropharynx the HPV-driven group showed a trend for better survival versus the HPV-negative group. The relative prevalence of HPV-driven oropharyngeal cancer is low in North-East Italy as compared to Western and Northern Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalPapillomavirus Research
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Head and neck cancer
  • HPV antibodies
  • HPV-driven
  • HPV-related markers
  • Oropharyngeal cancer
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Low prevalence of HPV-driven head and neck squamous cell carcinoma in North-East Italy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this