Human papillomavirus (HPV) 16 antibodies at diagnosis of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer and antibody trajectories after treatment

Yuehan Zhang, Tim Waterboer, Robert I. Haddad, Brett A. Miles, Alicia Wentz, Neil D. Gross, Carole Fakhry, Harry Quon, Jochen H. Lorch, Christine G. Gourin, Daniel Clayburgh, Krzysztof J. Misiukiewicz, Jeremy D. Richmon, Peter E. Andersen, Marshall R. Posner, Gypsyamber D'Souza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objectives Despite the fact that HPV-driven oropharyngeal cancer (HPV-OPC) has relatively low recurrence rates, intensive post-therapy monitoring remains the standard of care. Post-treatment biomarkers are needed to risk stratify HPV-OPC patients for more individualized surveillance intensity and which remain at higher recurrence risk. Materials and Methods 115 HPV-OPC patients (ascertained by p16 immunohistochemistry and/or in-situ hybridization) from a multicenter prospective case study (HOTSPOT) had blood collected at diagnosis, and 64 of these also had blood collected at post-treatment follow-up visits for up to two years. Samples were centrally tested for antibodies to the L1, E1, E2, E4, E6, and E7 proteins of HPV16. Results At diagnosis, most HPV-OPC cases were seropositive to HPV16 E6 (85%). In post therapeutic samples, HPV16 antibody level decreased slowly over time, but only 3 (of 51 cases seropositive at enrollment) dropped low enough to be classified as seronegative. At 3 years after diagnosis, cumulative risk of recurrence was 10.2% and 0% in HPV16 E6 seropositive and E6 seronegative HPV-OPC cases, respectively (p = 0.18). Risk of recurrence was increased, although not statistically significant, in those with higher HPV16 E6 antibody levels at diagnosis (per log antibody level, hazard ratio [HR] = 1.81, 95%CI = 0.47–6.92). Conclusion This study confirms the high seroprevalence of HPV oncogenic antibodies at diagnosis of HPV-OPC. HPV16 E6 antibody levels decrease after treatment, but most cases remain seropositive for up to two years. HPV16 E6 antibody levels at diagnosis did not appear to be a strong predictor of recurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-82
Number of pages6
JournalOral Oncology
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Antibodies
  • E6
  • HPV
  • Seroprevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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