HR-HPV E6/E7 mRNA In Situ Hybridization: Validation Against PCR, DNA In Situ Hybridization, and p16 Immunohistochemistry in 102 Samples of Cervical, Vulvar, Anal, and Head and Neck Neoplasia

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Dysregulated expression of oncogenic types of E6 and E7 is necessary for human papillomavirus (HPV)-driven carcinogenesis. An HPV E6/E7 mRNA in situ hybridization (ISH) assay covering 18 common high-risk types (“HR-RISH,” aka HR-HPV RNA18 ISH) has not been extensively studied in the anogenital tract or validated on automated technology. We herein compare HR-RISH to DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR), p16 immunohistochemistry, and a previously available HPV DNA ISH assay in HPV-related anogenital and head and neck (H&N) neoplasia. A total of 102 squamous intraepithelial lesions (16 CIN1, 25 CIN3, 3 AIN1, 12 AIN3, 9 VIN3)/invasive squamous cell carcinomas (17 cervical, 2 anal, 18 H&N) as well as 10 normal and 15 reactive cervix samples were collected. HR-RISH, DNA ISH, and p16 immunohistochemistry were performed on whole formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections. RNA ISH for 6 low-risk HPV types (LR-RISH) was also performed. RNA and DNA ISH assays used automated systems. HR-HPV PCR was performed on morphology-directed formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded punches. HR-RISH was ≥97% sensitive for PCR+ and p16+ neoplasia, as well as morphologically defined anogenital high grade squamous intraepithelial lesion/invasive squamous cell carcinoma. HR-RISH was also positive in 78% of anogenital low grade squamous intraepithelial lesion, including 81% of CIN1. Furthermore, a subset of PCR-negative/invalid and p16-negative lesions was positive for HR-RISH. Only 1 problematic reactive cervix sample and no normal cervix samples stained. These results demonstrate that HR-RISH is a robust method for the detection of HR-HPV-related neoplasia and provides insight into HPV pathobiology. Performance meets or exceeds that of existing assays in anogenital and H&N lesions and may play a role in resolving diagnostically challenging CIN1 versus reactive cases.

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