Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma not linked to human papillomavirus infection

A study done in Brazil suggests that high-risk human papillomavirus (hr-HPV) is not associated with the development of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.

One of the most common malignancy worldwide is Esophageal cancer. The major type of this malignancy is the esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), which is usually diagnosed at an advanced stage, showing rapid progression and extremely poor prognosis. Research has determined key risk factors such as alcohol consumption, smoking, malnutrition, environmental factors, and infectious pathogenic microorganisms associated with development of ESCC.

There is contradicting research concerning HPV prevalence and viral types identified in ESCC. During persistent hr-HPV infection, the increased expression of viral oncoproteins E6 and E7 can interfere with cell cycle control and trigger chromosomal instability since they inactivate p53 and pRb tumor-suppressor protein (retinoblastoma protein), respectively, resulting in increased p16 and p53 expressions. Studies done using immunohistochemistry to detect p16 and p53 expression have associated HPV infection with genital and oropharyngeal carcinomas.

A study led by Dr. Estela Maria Silva at the Barretos Cancer Hospital investigated the prevalence of HPV in ESCC and normal esophageal tissue, while evaluating p16 and p53 expression levels in HPV positive esophageal cancers. This study, which was published in the Journal of Cancer, concluded that the prevalence of HPV in ESCC and healthy individual esophagus was identical. The results from this study suggest that HPV does not necessarily has a role in the development of esophageal cancer since there was no association between the status of HPV and the expression of p53 and p16.

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