BACKGROUND: Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) is now advocated. Demonstration of transcriptionally active high-risk HPV (HR-HPV) in fresh tumour tissue is considered to be the analytical 'gold standard'. Clinical testing has focused on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue at the expense of sensitivity and specificity. Recently, a novel RNA in situ hybridisation test (RNAscope) has been developed for the detection of HR-HPV in FFPE tissue; however, validation against the 'gold standard' has not been reported.
METHODS: A tissue microarray comprising FFPE cores from 79 OPSCC was tested using HR-HPV RNAscope. Analytical accuracy and prognostic capacity were established by comparison with the reference test; qRT-PCR for HR-HPV on matched fresh-frozen samples.
RESULTS: High-risk HPV RNAscope had a sensitivity and specificity of 97 and 93%, respectively, against the reference test. Kaplan-Meier estimates of disease-specific survival (DSS, P=0.001) and overall survival (OS, P<0.001) by RNAscope were similar to the reference test (DSS, P=0.003, OS, P<0.001) and at least, not inferior to p16 immunohistochemistry +/- HR-HPV DNA-based tests.
CONCLUSION: HR-HPV RNAscope demonstrates excellent analytical and prognostic performance against the 'gold standard'. These data suggest that the test could be developed to provide the 'clinical standard' for assigning a diagnosis of HPV-related OPSCC.
- Biomarkers, Tumor/genetics
- Carcinoma, Squamous Cell/diagnosis
- Follow-Up Studies
- Middle Aged
- Molecular Diagnostic Techniques
- Neoplasm Staging
- Oropharyngeal Neoplasms/diagnosis
- Papillomavirus Infections/diagnosis
- Polymerase Chain Reaction
- RNA, Viral/genetics
- Survival Rate
- Tissue Array Analysis