Prospective study of human polyomaviruses and risk of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma in the United States

Anala Gossai, Tim Waterboer, Heather H. Nelson, Jennifer A. Doherty, Angelika Michel, Martina Willhauck-Fleckenstein, Shohreh F. Farzan, Brock C. Christensen, Anne G. Hoen, Ann E. Perry, Michael Pawlita, Margaret R. Karagas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Merkel cell polyomavirus (PyV) is causally related to Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare skin malignancy. Little is known about the serostability of other PyVs over time or associations with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Methods: As part of a U.S. nested case?control study, antibody response against the PyV VP1 capsid proteins of BK and John Cunningham virus (JC) was measured using multiplex serology on 113 SCC cases and 229 gender, age, and study center?matched controls who had a prior keratinocyte cancer. Repeated serum samples from controls and both pre and postdiagnosis samples from a subset of SCC cases were also tested. Odds ratios (OR) for SCC associated with seropositivity to each PyV type were estimated using conditional logistic regression. Results: Among controls, BK and JC seroreactivity was stable over time, with intraclass correlation coefficients of 0.86 for BK and 0.94 for JC. Among cases, there was little evidence of seroconversion following SCC diagnosis. JC seropositivity prior to diagnosis was associated with an elevated risk of SCC (OR = 2.54; 95% CI, 1.23?5.25), and SCC risk increased with increasing quartiles of JC (Ptrend = 0.004) and BK (Ptrend = 0.02) seroreactivity. Conclusions: PyV antibody levels were stable over time and following an SCC diagnosis. A history of PyV infection may be involved in the occurrence of SCC in a population at high risk for this malignancy. Impact: A single measure of PyV seroreactivity appears a reliable indicator of long-term antibody status, and PyV exposure may be a risk factor for subsequent SCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-744
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grant R01CA057494 (to M.R. Karagas) from the NIH/NCI, grant P20GM104416 from COBRE, and grant K01LM011985 (to A.G. Hoen).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Association for Cancer Research.


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