Genomic Copy Number Variations Characterize the Prognosis of Both P16-Positive and P16-Negative Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma After Curative Resection

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Recently increasing high-risk HPV+ OSCC exhibits unique clinical and molecular characteristics compared to HPV-unrelated (HPV−) counterpart. Genomic copy number variations (CNVs), unique in HPV+ OSCCs, and their role for the prognosis prediction remains poorly studied. Here, we analyzed the distinct genomic copy number variations (CNVs) in human papillomavirus-related (HPV+) oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and their role as a prognosticator after curative resection.

For 58 consecutive, Korean OSCC patients that underwent surgery-based treatment with median 10 years of follow-up, HPV-related markers, and genome-wide CNV analysis were analyzed. Clinical associations between the CNV profile and survival analyses were followed.

p16 expression predicted the overall survival (OS) (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.27, confidence interval [CI]: 0.39–0.80, P = 0.0006) better than HPV L1 PCR (HR = 0.83, CI: 0.66–1.29, P = 0.64), smoking, or other variables. Although the overall number of CNVs was not significantly different, 30 loci showed unique CNV patterns between the p16+ and p16− groups. A region containing PRDM2 was amplified only in the p16+ group, whereas EGFR and 11q13.3 showed increased amplification in p16− counterpart. Loss of a locus containing FGF18 led to a worse, but gain of region including CDK10 and RAD18 led to better overall survival (OS) in all OSCC patients. Meanwhile, subgroup analysis of p16+ OSCC revealed that amplification of regions harboring HRAS and loss of locus bearing KDR led to better OS.

p16+ OSCC exhibit distinct CNV patterns compared with p16− counterpart. Specific patterns of CNVs predict better survival, especially in p16+ OSCC. This might allow better insights of the outcome after curative resection for HPV+ and HPV− OSCC.

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