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HPV-Associated Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Eyelid: Diagnostic Utility of p16 Immunohistochemistry and mRNA In Situ Hybridization.

Head and Neck Pathology 2023 September 22
BACKGROUND: High-risk (HR) Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been implicated in pathogenesis of squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) at several sites with mucocutaneous junctions, including the head and neck. SCC is the second most common eyelid malignancy. However, its association with transcriptionally active HR-HPV has not been adequately studied.

METHODS: Two index cases of eyelid HPV-associated SCC are described in detail. A retrospective cohort of eyelid SCC was examined for p16 immunoexpression. Cases demonstrating p16 positivity or equivocal staining were subjected to high-risk HPV mRNA in situ hybridization (ISH). Quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) was performed in mRNA ISH-positive cases for HPV genotyping.

RESULTS: The two index patients were older adult females, with upper eyelid tumours. On histology, both tumours were non-keratinizing SCC with trabecular and nested architecture reminiscent of oropharyngeal HPV-associated non-keratinizing SCC, prompting p16 immunohistochemistry, which was positive. HR-HPV mRNA ISH was positive, and qPCR detected HPV16 in both cases. Three of 20 (15%) archival cases showed p16 immunopositivity and two (10%) showed equivocal staining. However, mRNA ISH was negative. All cases showing p16 immunostaining and lacking HR-HPV were keratinizing SCCs. Thus, 9% of all eyelid SCC examined demonstrated HR-HPV.

CONCLUSION: The prevalence of HR-HPV in eyelid SCC is low in Indian patients. HPV-associated SCC may mimic commoner eyelid carcinomas as it lacks overt keratinization. In basaloid-appearing eyelid carcinomas, p16 immunopositivity should be followed by reflex HR-HPV mRNA ISH, as p16 immunohistochemistry alone has low specificity. The prognostic role, if any, of HPV association needs further evaluation.

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