Purpose Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the relatively good prognosis of patients with a human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) and one of these is a higher sensitivity to (chemo)radiation. Previous studies have suggested that treatment failure in OPSCC patients is caused by resistance of cancer stem cells (CSCs). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between the number of CSCs and prognosis in HPV-positive OPSCC patients. Experimental design All OPSCC patients (n = 711) treated between 2000 and 2006 in two Dutch university hospitals were included. Presence of HPV in a tumour tissue specimen was tested by p16-immunostaining followed by HPV DNA GP5+/6+polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The presence and intensity of tumour CSC markers CD44 and CD98 were determined by immunohistochemistry and semiquantitative scoring was performed. Overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) rates were compared between patients with low and high CD44/CD98 expression in relation to HPV status. Results HPV-positive tumours showed a lower percentage of cells with CD44 and CD98 expression than HPV-negative tumours (p < 0.001, χ2-test). Within the group of patients with HPV-positive OPSCC, a high percentage of CD98-positive tumour cells was associated with a significantly worse 5-year OS and PFS (OS: 36.4% and PFS: 27.3%) compared to patients with a low percentage of CD98-positive cells (OS: 71.9% and PFS: 70.5%, respectively) (p < 0.001). Conclusions HPV-positive OPSCCs harbour fewer cells expressing the CSC enrichment markers CD44 and CD98. Furthermore, OS and PFS were significantly worse for patients with HPV-positive OPSCC with a high percentage of CD98-positive cells.

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doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2013.11.010, hdl.handle.net/1765/69869
European Journal of Cancer
Department of Otorhinolaryngology

Rietbergen, M., Martens-De Kemp, S., Bloemena, E., Witte, B., Brink, A., Baatenburg de Jong, R. J., … Brakenhoff, R. (2014). Cancer stem cell enrichment marker CD98: A prognostic factor for survival in patients with human papillomavirus-positive oropharyngeal cancer. European Journal of Cancer, 50(4), 765–773. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2013.11.010