Int J Mol Sci 19 (4) 978 [2018-03-25; online 2018-03-25]
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a major etiological factor for tonsillar and the base of tongue cancer (TSCC/BOTSCC). HPV-positive and HPV-negative TSCC/BOTSCC present major differences in mutations, mRNA expression and clinical outcome. Earlier protein studies on TSCC/BOTSCC have mainly analyzed individual proteins. Here, the aim was to compare a larger set of cancer and immune related proteins in HPV-positive and HPV-negative TSCC/BOTSCC in relation to normal tissue, presence of HPV, and clinical outcome. Fresh frozen tissue from 42 HPV-positive and 17 HPV-negative TSCC/BOTSCC, and corresponding normal samples, were analyzed for expression of 167 proteins using two Olink multiplex immunoassays. Major differences in protein expression between TSCC/BOTSCC and normal tissue were identified, especially in chemo- and cytokines. Moreover, 34 proteins, mainly immunoregulatory proteins and chemokines, were differently expressed in HPV-positive vs HPV-negative TSCC/BOTSCC. Several proteins were potentially related to clinical outcome for HPV-positive or HPV-negative tumors. For HPV-positive tumors, these were mostly related to angiogenesis and hypoxia. Correlation with clinical outcome of one of these, VEGFA, was validated by immunohistochemistry. Differences in immune related proteins between HPV-positive and HPV-negative TSCC/BOTSCC reflect the stronger activity of the immune defense in the former. Angiogenesis related proteins might serve as potential targets for therapy in HPV-positive TSCC/BOTSCC.