(HealthDay News) – High-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) infection is found in a subset of penile squamous cell carcinomas (PSCCs) that may develop from undifferentiated penile intraepithelial neoplasia (PeIN).

Carla Ferrándiz-Pulido, MD, from the Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues examined the prevalence of HPV in a retrospective series of 82 patients with PSCC (69 invasive and 13 PeIN). Polymerase chain reaction assay with SPF-10 broad-spectrum primers followed by DNA enzyme immunoassay was used for HPV detection, and genotyping was performed using a reverse hybridization line probe assay.

The researchers identified HPV DNA in 31 of 77 (40.2%) PSCC cases (22 of 67 invasive and nine of 10 PeIN). HPV-16 was identified in 25 of 31 (80.6%) cases. Most basaloid and warty tumors were hrHPV positive, while only 15% of usual PSCC were hrHPV positive. All hrHPV-positive PSCC had an adjacent undifferentiated PeIN. The researchers found that hrHPV infection correlated with strong p16INK4a immunostaining, and p16INK4a immunohistochemical overexpression was present in most undifferentiated PeIN. There was better overall survival, although not statistically significant, in both hrHPV-positive and p16INK4a-positive tumors.

“In this study, we detected hrHPV in 28% of PSCC and in 90% of PeIN,” the authors write. “These results allow identification of a subset of PSCC in which HPV would play a triggering role and give support to the bimodal etiopathogenic hypothesis that distinguishes two different subsets of PSCC.”

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