Korean J Pathol.  2012 Apr;46(2):177-186.

Expression of Human Papillomavirus-Related Proteins and Its Clinical Implication in Tonsillar Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • 1Department of Hospital Pathology, The Catholic University of Korea School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. lys9908@catholic.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Pathology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Department of Olaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, The Catholic University of Korea School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is known to cause of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC). HPV positive SqCCs overexpress p16 and are associated with better survival. Several markers of cell cycles and apoptosis have been reported as a prognostic value. We examined the prognostic value of HPV status, p16, cyclin D1, and Bcl-2 in patients with tonsillar SqCC.
Tissue microarrays were constructed in 56 cases of tonsillar SqCC for which we performed an immunohistochemistry and an in situ hybridization (ISH) of the HPV.
Of the 56 cases, 31 (55.3%) were positive for p16 and 20 (35.7%) were positive for HPV ISH. The expressions of p16, cyclin D1, and Bcl-2 were not correlated with the clinicopathologic variables including smoking status, differentiation and pT- and pN-stages. The HPV ISH positive group showed a better overall survival than the HPV negative group (p=0.04), and the p16 positive group showed a better disease free survival (DFS) than the negative group (p=0.016). Cox regression analysis showed that only p16 positivity was an independent prognostic factor for DFS (p=0.03; hazard ratio, 10.1).
Our results indicate that both p16 expression and HPV status are useful indicators for risk stratification in patients with tonsillar SqCC.


Human papillomavirus; Palatine tonsil; Carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma; p16; Bcl-2; Cyclin D1
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