Evaluation of Epstein–Barr virus expression in oral squamous cell carcinomas

Saeedeh Khalesi, Laleh Maleki, Farzad Ghapani


Background: Oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is one of the most common cancers.
Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) has been related to throat‑esophageal and gastric cancers. The aim of
this study was to evaluate the prevalence of EBV in OSCC.
Materials and Methods: This descriptive‑analytical cross‑sectional study was performed on
48 samples recorded in the archives of the Oral Pathology Department of Isfahan Dental School
with definitive diagnosis of OSCCs prepared by excisional biopsy. Samples were selected in different
age groups, locations, and genders. The grade of the tumor malignancy was determined based on
Annrerothʼs classification. The EBV expression was determined by immunohistochemical (IHC)
staining. The data were entered into SPSS software and statistically analyzed by t‑test, Chi‑square,
and Fisher’s exact test. Significance level was considered P < 0.05.
Results: IHC staining for EBV was positive in 25 samples (52%). There was no significant
relationship between EBV expression and mean age, gender, clinical feature, and grade of tumor
differentiation (P > 0.05). A significant difference was observed between the EBV expression and
location (P = 0.035). Furthermore, a significant difference was observed between the grade of
tumor and staining intensity distribution index of EBV (P = 0.005).
Conclusion: EBV expression was observed in most of the OSCCs, especially in poorly differentiated
tumors. The pathogenesis of OSCCs may be related with EBV. OSCCs in buccal mucosa and floor
of the mouth have more frequently of EBV expression. Future studies on the mechanisms of EBV
and their role in OSCC are required with larger sample sizes.
Key Words: Epstein–Barr virus, oral cancer, squamous cell carcinoma

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