Prevalence of high-risk human papillomavirus in oral squamous cell carcinoma with or without chewing habits

Namrah Anwar, Qurratulain Chundriger, Sohail Awan, Tariq Moatter, Tazeen Saeed Ali, Maria Abdul Rasheed, Shahid Pervez

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Oral cancer (OC) is the most common cancer in Pakistani males and the second most common in females. Major risk factors include peculiar chewing habits, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and molecular pathways. However, less data is available for this avertible cancer regarding its association with high-risk HPV (HR-HPV) and chewing habits in this region. Therefore, this study was done to determine the prevalence of HR-HPV in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and its correlation with p16 and chewing habits. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) biopsy specimens of 186 samples were tested for HR-HPV type 16/18 by PCR, followed by p16 immunostaining (IHC) in a subset of cases (n = 50). Appropriate statistical tests were applied to find the association between HR-HPV/p16 and peculiar chewing habits with significance criteria of p<0.05 with 95% CI. HR-HPV (type 16 &18) was present in seven out of 186 cases (3.8%). Of these seven cases, five were positive for HPV16, whereas two were positive for HPV16/18. The overall expression of p16 protein in 50 samples was 38% (n = 19), and among these 19-IHC positive samples, 26% were positive for HR-HPV DNA. No significant association was found between HR-HPV positivity and p16 and chewing habits (p>0.05). It was concluded that HR-HPV prevalence in OSCC was very low in our population, with no statistically significant correlation with p16 and chewing habits. These results suggest the role of HR-HPV as an independent risk factor in OSCC in the local setting.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0300354
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5 May
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


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