Original Research

Human Papilloma Virus and Cancer Stem Cell markers in Oral Epithelial Dysplasia—An Immunohistochemical Study

Prasanth Thankappan, Madhavan Nirmal Ramadoss, Tharmasahayam Isaac Joseph, Percy Ida Augustine, Isaacjoseph Bevin Shaga, and Jashree Thilak


Objectives: To study the correlation between the putative cancer stem cell (CSC) markers aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1), cluster of differentiation 44 (CD44), sex-determining region Y-box 2 (SOX2), and octamer-binding protein 4 (OCT4) and human papilloma virus (HPV) infection using p16, the surrogate marker of HPV in oral epithelial dysplasia (OED) and normal mucosa.
Methods: Five sections each from 40 histopathologically diagnosed cases of different grades of OED and 10 cases of normal oral mucosa without dysplasia were immunohistochemically stained with p16, ALDH1, CD44, SOX2, and OCT4, respectively.

Results: Expression of ALDH1 and SOX2 was significantly increased in OED cases, whereas CD44 and OCT4 expression was increased in normal mucosa. P16-positive OED cases showed upregulation of ALDH1 and OCT4 expression as compared to p16-negative cases, while CD44 and SOX2 expression was downregulated in p16-positive OED cases; however, the results were not statistically significant.

Conclusion: The present study indicated a suggestive link between p16 and cancer stem cell marker expression in HPV-associated OED, and that p16 has a significant role in CSC progression in OED. This is the first study to evaluate the expression of putative CSC markers in HPV-associated OED. However, low study numbers are a potential limiting factor in this study.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2021;12(4):e0028