Purpose: There is a paucity of biomarkers to predict failure in human papillomavirus–positive (HPV+) oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) following curative therapy. E6/E7 viral oncoproteins are constitutively expressed in HPV+ tumors and highly immunogenic, resulting in readily detected serum antibodies. The purpose of this study is to determine whether serum E6 and E7 antibody levels can potentially serve as a biomarker of recurrence in patients with HPV+OPSCC.
Experimental Design: We evaluated E6/E7 antibody levels in patients with previously untreated, advanced stage (III, IVa-b), HPV+OPSCC receiving definitive chemoradiation under a uniform protocol from 2003 to 2010. Baseline and longitudinal serum samples were obtained from our archived repository. E6/E7 serum levels were measured using a glutathione-S-transferase capture ELISA and quantified by approximating the area under the dilution curve, and were analyzed using ANOVA and linear mixed model for longitudinal analysis.
Results: We compared 22 HPV+OPSCC patients who developed recurrence with 30 patients who remained disease-free. There were no differences in T classification, N classification, disease subsite, or smoking status between the groups. In a longitudinal analysis, recurrent patients had significantly higher E6 and E7 serum antibody levels than the nonrecurrent patients over the follow-up period (P = 0.02 and P = 0.002, respectively). Patients who recurred had a lower clearance of E7 antibody than patients who remained disease-free (P = 0.0016).
Conclusions: Patients with HPV+OPSCC whose disease recurs have a lower clearance of E6 and E7 antibodies than patients who do not have recurrence. The ratio of E7 antibody at disease recurrence compared with baseline is potentially a clinically significant measurement of disease status in HPV+OPSCC. Clin Cancer Res; 1–7. ©2016 AACR.
M.E. Spector and A.G. Sacco are co-first authors for this article.
- Received June 26, 2016.
- Revision received October 10, 2016.
- Accepted October 31, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.