Role of infectious agents in the carcinogenesis of the brain and head and neck cancers

January 3, 2013 — Leave a comment

Brain cancers and head and neck cancers together account for more than 873,000 cases annually worldwide, with an increasing incidence each year.

A major problem with such research is that the role of many infectious agents may be underestimated due to the lack of or inconsistency in experimental data obtained globally.

Our analysis of the literature showed the presence of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) in distinct types of brain tumour, namely glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and medulloblastoma. In particular, there are reports of viral protein in up to 100% of GBM specimens.

In head and neck cancers, there is a distinct correlation between Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Considering that almost every undifferentiated NPC is EBV-positive, virus titer levels can be measured to screen high-risk populations.

association between human papilloma virus (HPV) and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC);

Brain cancer is commonly associated with polyoma- viruses such as SV40, BKV, and JCV

HCMV proteins were also detected in human medulloblastoma cell lines, accounting for as much as 92% of immediate early protein and 73% of late protein. In addition, a high level of CMV DNA and viral protein was identified in primary medulloblastoma, medulloblas- toma cell lines, and xenografts [22]. Together, these findings from cell or tissue culture and patient blood analysis indicate a role of CMV in various types of brain cancer.


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