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Title: Prognostic markers in oropharyngeal cancers
Author: Oguejiofor, Kenneth Kenechukwu
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 9686
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2016
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Introduction: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is changing the prevalence, survival and treatment paradigms in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC). Improved survival of patients with HPV positive compared to HPV negative OPSCC has led to trials of treatment de-escalation. Current HPV detection methods are imprecise, therefore standardised assessment of transcriptionally active HPV in OPSCC is required. Furthermore, the differences in immune characteristics and/or the hypoxia response/effects could explain observed differences in prognosis between HPV positive and negative OPSCC. Rigorous HPV detection and subsequent biomarker evaluation should provide additional information required before introduction of treatment de-escalation in broad patient groupings. Methods: The study cohort was 218 patients with OPSCC who received radiotherapy with curative intent. HPV status was determined on pre-treatment, formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded blocks using: 1) polymerase chain reaction (PCR); 2) in-situ hybridisation (ISH) and 3) immuno-histochemistry (IHC). QuantiGene multiplex assay was designed to detect mRNA of reference sequences of the common high-risk HPV types (16, 18, 33, 35, 45, 52 and 58). HPV detection methods were compared with mRNA quantification. Multimarker IHC of immune cell markers using chromogenic and fluorescent staining was performed, analysed and compared with single marker IHC using automated multispectral image analysis. A validated multiplex IHC method was used for a) chromogenic (CD3, CD4, CD8, and FoxP3) and b) fluorescent (CD8, CD68 and PD1/PD-L1) evaluation in tumour and stroma compartments. Single marker IHC was used to investigate tumour hypoxia markers (HIF-1α and CA-IX) in HPV positive and negative OPSCC. Results: p16 IHC and ISH were the most sensitive and specific, respectively, for classifying HPV status. The combination of the three tests had the highest positive/negative predictive values compared with QuantiGene mRNA detection. Multiplex validation showed that, for serial sections up to 6 μm apart, there were highly significant correlations (P<0.0001) between single and multiplex counts for both chromogenic and fluorescent IHC. Overall there was less variation in cell counts with fluorescent staining when compared to chromogenic staining. Multiplex IHC of TILs in HPV positive and negative OPSCC showed higher infiltration in both tumour and stromal areas of CD3+CD4+ and CD3+CD8+ T cells but not CD4+FoxP3 Tregs in HPV positive compared with HPV negative OPSCC. Only CD3+CD8+ stromal and not tumour area infiltration was associated with increased survival (P=0.02). PD-L1 expression was higher in HPV negative OPSCC and this was related to macrophage (CD68) expression of PD-L1. In HPV negative tumours infiltration with CD68+PD-L1 was associated with a good prognosis. HPV negative patients had higher expression of HIF-1α but not CA-IX. High expression of both markers was associated with a poor prognosis irrespective of HPV status. Conclusions: There are other prognostic factors operating in the larger subdivision of HPV positive and negative OPSCC. Precise HPV detection and inclusion of other prognostic factors is required before treatment de-escalation is used. Expression of immune inhibitory factors (PD1/PD-L1) alone without contextualisation with immune cell density is insufficient for patient prognostication and potential selection for therapy using immune checkpoint inhibitors. Hypoxia modification of radiotherapy should be explored in both HPV positive and negative OPSCC.
Supervisor: Stern, Peter ; Hampson, Ian ; West, Catharine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Oropharyngeal cancers (OPSCC) ; Human papilloma virus (HPV) ; Tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) ; Hypoxia ; PD-1/PD-L1 ; Multiplex immunohistochemistry