Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is one of the hypothesized causes of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), but the etiological association remains uncertain. It was postulated that other infectious agents together with HPV may increase the risk of ESCC. The current investigation aimed to explore the presence of a new human tumor virus, Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV), together with HPV in ESCC tumors and non-cancerous esophageal samples in northern Iran. In total, 96 esophageal samples (51 with ESCC, and 45 without esophageal malignancy) were examined. HPV DNA was detected in esophageal specimens of 16 out of the 51 ESCC cases (31.4 %) and 20 out of the 45 non-cancerous samples (44.4 %). Untypable HPV genotypes were recognized in high rates in cancerous (75.0 %) and non-cancerous (55.0 %) esophageal specimens. MCPyV DNA was detected in esophageal specimens of 23 out of the 51 ESCC cases (45.1 %) and 16 out of the 45 non-cancerous samples (35.6 %). The mean MCPyV DNA copy number was 1.0 × 10−5 ± 2.4 × 10−5 and 6.0 × 10−6 ± 1.3 × 10−5 per cell in ESCC cases and non-cancerous samples, respectively. There was no statistically significant difference between cancerous and non-cancerous samples regarding mean MCPyV DNA load (P = 0.353). A bayesian logistic regression model adjusted to the location of esophageal specimen and MCPyV infection, revealed a significant association between HPV and odds of ESCC (OR, 2.45; 95 % CI: 1.01–6.16). This study provides the evidence of the detection of the MCPyV DNA at a low viral copy number in cancerous and non- cancerous esophageal samples.
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We would like to express our appreciation to the directors and staff of Pathology Department of Shahid Beheshti Hospital, and Amol Central Pathobiology Laboratory for their collaboration in sample collection. This study was financially supported by a grant from Babol University of Medical Sciences (Project code: 9339317).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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