Unlocking the Potential of Saliva-Based Test to Detect HPV-16-Driven Oropharyngeal Cancer.


The School of Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology and the Translational Research Institute, Queensland 4059, Australia. [Email]


The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) is rising in high-income countries, including Australia. Increasing evidence suggests that accurate HPV testing is pivotal for clinical decision making and treatment planning in these patients. Recently, the eighth edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer/Union for International Cancer Control (AJCC/UICC) tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging system for OPC (based on the p16INK4a (p16) status) was proposed and has been implemented. However, the applicability of this new staging system is still far from clear. In our study, n = 127 OPC patients from Queensland, Australia were recruited, and the tumor p16 expression in these patients was examined using immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis. HPV-16 genotyping, viral load, and physical status (episomal versus integrated) in the saliva samples of OPC patients were determined using the qPCR method. A good inter-rater agreement (k = 0.612) was found between tumor p16 expression and oral HPV-16 infection in OPC. Importantly, according to the eighth edition staging system, HPV-16 DNA viral load (>10 copies/50 ng) was significantly associated with the advanced stages of OPC. In concordance with previous studies, a mixed HPV-16 form (partially or fully integrated) was predominately found in OPC patients. Taken together, our data support HPV-16 detection in saliva as a screening biomarker to identify people within the community who are at risk of developing OPC.


HPV-16 integration,HPV-16 viral load,human papillomavirus,oropharyngeal cancer,saliva,