High-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in conjunctival and lacrimal sac squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) has been sporadically reported; however, its prevalence, clinicopathologic significance and surrogate markers have not been fully elucidated. Here, we attempted to clarify these questions in Japanese patients with conjunctiva and lacrimal sac SCCs. We retrospectively collected 51 conjunctival SCC and 7 lacrimal sac SCC samples and analyzed them for (1) transcriptionally active high-risk HPV infection using messenger RNA in situ hybridization and (2) protein expressions of p16 and Rb using immunohistochemistry (IHC). Among a total of 58 cases, 25 (43.1%) and 16 (27.6%) tumors were positive for p16-IHC and HPV in situ hybridization, respectively. Ten (19.6%) of the 51 conjunctival SCCs, especially in the palpebral conjunctiva, and 6 (85.7%) of the 7 lacrimal sac SCCs were positive for high-risk HPV. High-risk HPV infection was significantly associated with younger patients, nonkeratinizing SCC histology, p16-positivity and partial loss of Rb expression, but not with recurrence risk. Notably, p16-IHC was not a perfect surrogate marker for high-risk HPV infection; only 64% (16/25) of p16-positive tumors were positive for high-risk HPV. In contrast, the p16+/Rb partial loss pattern was exclusively correlated with high-risk HPV-positivity. The results suggest that the combination of p16 and Rb expression patterns by IHC could be a useful method to predict high-risk HPV infection in conjunctival and lacrimal sac SCCs. HPV infection may be of less prognostic value in this field of cancers.
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