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The American journal of surgical pathology

p16 is superior to ProEx C in identifying high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) of the anal canal.


PMID 23552383

Abstract

Although the incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated anal neoplasia is increasing, interobserver and intraobserver reproducibility in the grading of biopsy specimens from this area remains unacceptably low. Attempts to produce a more reproducible grading scheme have led to the use of biomarkers for the detection of high-risk HPV (HR-HPV). We evaluated the performance of standard morphology and biomarkers p16, ProEx C, and Ki-67 in a set of 75 lesions [17 nondysplastic lesions, 23 low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSIL)/condyloma, 20 high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL), 15 invasive squamous cell carcinomas] from the anal and perianal region in 65 patients and correlated these findings with HPV subtype on the basis of a type-specific multiplex real-time polymerase chain reaction assay designed to detect HR-HPV. A subset of cases with amplifiable HPV DNA was also sequenced. HSIL was typically flat (15/20), and only a minority (4/20) had koilocytes. In contrast, only 1 LSIL was flat (1/23), and the remainder were exophytic. The majority of LSIL had areas of koilocytic change (20/23). HR-HPV DNA was detected in the majority (89%) of invasive carcinomas and HSIL biopsies, 86% and 97% of which were accurately labeled by strong and diffuse block-positive p16 and ProEx C, respectively. LSIL cases, however, only infrequently harbored HR-HPV (13%); most harbored low-risk HPV (LR-HPV) types 6 and 11. Within the LSIL group, p16 outperformed ProEx C, resulting in fewer false-positive cases (5% vs. 75%). Ki-67 was also increased in HR-HPV-positive lesions, although biopsies with increased inflammation and reactive changes also showed higher Ki-67 indices. These data suggest that strong and diffuse block-positive nuclear and cytoplasmic labeling with p16 is a highly specific biomarker for the presence of HR-HPV in anal biopsies and that this finding correlates with high-grade lesions.