Background: Inconsistency in the prevalence of infection by human papillomavirus (HPV) in lung cancer patients was found between different countries with racial and geographic variations. Our previous reports have indicated that a high-risk HPV 16/18 DNA was frequently detected in Chinese lung cancer patients living in Taichung, Taiwan (Cheng et al. Cancer Res. 2001;61:2799-803). Thus, we conducted this study to verify whether there was a similar HPV 16/18 infection prevalence in lung cancer patients from Wuhan, China. Methods: To reduce the false positive HPV detection, the paraffin sections of 73 lung tumors and 34 non-cancer controls from Wuhan, China were collected for detection of the presence of HPV 16/18 DNA by in situ hybridization (ISH). Results: Our results showed that the rates of HPV 16 and/or 18 infections in patients with lung tumors were significantly higher than in 34 non-cancer control subjects (26.0 versus 2.8% for HPV 16, P = 0.030; 23.3 versus 5.7% for HPV 18, P = 0.031; 27.7 versus 5.9% for HPV 16 or 18, P = 0.003) with a similar infection frequency of HPV 16 and 18 types in lung tumors. This result indicated that HPV 16/18 infection may be associated with lung cancer development in Chinese patients from Wuhan, China. Further statistical analyses revealed that HPV 16 or 18 infection was not correlated with any clinico-pathological parameter studied, including age, gender, smoking status, tumor type, tumor stage and tumor grades. Interestingly, smoking and male patients had a higher prevalence of HPV 16, although not reaching a statistical significance, compared with non-smoking and female patients, respectively (33.3% for smokers versus 20.0% non-smokers; 33.3% for male versus 17.6% for female). As compared with the HPV 16/18 infection in Taiwan, Chinese patients with lung cancer from Wuhan had a different HPV 16/18 infection prevalence. Conclusion: Difference in HPV 16/18 infection in lung cancer patients from Wuhan, China and Taichung, Taiwan suggests that HPV 16/18 might play a different role in lung cancer development among Chinese living in different areas.
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