Serum antibodies to the HPV16 proteome as biomarkers for head and neck cancer

Br J Cancer. 2011 Jun 7;104(12):1896-905. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2011.171.


Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 is associated with oropharyngeal carcinomas (OPC). Antibodies (Abs) to HPV16 E6 and E7 oncoproteins have been detected in patient sera; however, Abs to other early HPV-derived proteins have not been well explored.

Methods: Antibodies to the HPV16 proteome were quantified using a novel multiplexed bead assay, using C-terminal GST-fusion proteins captured onto Luminex beads. Sera were obtained from untreated patients with OPC (N=40), partners of patients with HPV16+ OPC (N=11), and healthy controls (N=50).

Results: Oropharyngeal carcinomas patients with known virus-like capsid particle+ Abs had elevated serum Abs to HPV16 E1, E2, E4, E6, and E7, and L1 antibody levels, but not E5. The ratios of specific median fluorescence intensity to p21-GST compared with controls were E1: 50.7 vs 2.1; E4: 14.6 vs 1.3; E6: 11.3 vs 2.4; E7: 43.1 vs 2.6; and L1: 10.3 vs 2.6 (each P≤0.01). In a validation cohort, HPV16 E1, E2, and E7 antibody levels were significantly elevated compared with healthy control samples (P≤0.02) and partners of OPC patients (P≤0.01).

Conclusion: Patients with HPV16+ OPC have detectable Abs to E1, E2, and E7 proteins, which are potential biomarkers for HPV-associated OPC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / immunology*
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Oropharyngeal Neoplasms / virology*
  • Papillomavirus E7 Proteins / immunology*
  • Proteome / immunology*
  • Repressor Proteins / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • E6 protein, Human papillomavirus type 16
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral
  • Papillomavirus E7 Proteins
  • Proteome
  • Repressor Proteins
  • oncogene protein E7, Human papillomavirus type 16