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Co-presence of Epstein-Barr Virus and Human Papillomavirus is associated with a high frequency of p53 gene mutation in cervical cancer diagnosed in southern Nigeria

J.O. Okoye
A.A. Ngokere
C.C. Onyenekwe
U.A. Eze
I.O. Uduchi


Background: Evidence shows that the co-existence of Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is associated with  aggressive and poorly differentiated cervical squamous cell carcinomas (CSCC) phenotype.

Aim: This study aimed to determine the frequency of mutant p53 (mtp53) gene in single and co-existence of HPV and oncogenic EBV  latent membrane protein 1 (E-LMP1) among women diagnosed with CSCC in Southern Nigeria.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study included 105 cervical cancer tissues, diagnosed between January 2016 and December 2018. The  tissue sections were immunohistochemically stained for mtp53, E-LMP1, and HPV proteins and scored accordingly. Descriptive, Chi- square test and Pearson’s correlation were performed, and statistical significance was set at p≤0.05.

Result: Among the stained sections,  the frequency of HPV, E-LMP1, and E-LMP1/HPV detection was 8.6%, 20.0%, and 42.9%, respectively. The mtp53 detection was higher in  ELMP1/HPV co-presence (86.7%) compared with HPV and ELMP1 mono-presence (55.6%, and 14.3%, respectively), and this was  statistically significant (p< 0.0001). The prevalence of invasive and non-invasive cases of CSCC were 62.9% and 37.1%, respectively. E-LMP1 and HPV co-presence were significantly higher in invasive cervical cancer (48.5%) compared to non-invasive cervical cancer cases (33.3%)  at p= 0.156. The E-LMP1 presence was significantly higher in poorly differentiated CSCC (50.0%) compared to the moderately and well- differentiated CSCC (25.0% and 10.5%, respectively) at p= 0.011.

Conclusion: This study revealed a higher frequency of EBV/HPV co- infection in CSCC. It also shown- that a higher frequency of mtp53 in E-LMP1 and HPV co-presence, suggesting that E-LMP1 could be  responsible for the high CSCC lethality in West Africa.