Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections have been implicated in lung carcinogenesis, but causal associations remain uncertain. We evaluated a potential causal role for HPV infections in lung cancer through an analysis involving serology, tumor DNA, RNA, and p16 protein expression. Association between type-specific HPV antibodies and risk of lung cancer was examined among 3,083 cases and 4,328 controls in two case-control studies (retrospective) and one nested case-control study (prospective design). Three hundred and thirty-four available tumors were subjected to pathologic evaluation and subsequent HPV genotyping following stringent conditions to detect all high-risk and two low-risk HPV types. All HPV DNA-positive tumors were further tested for the expression of p16 protein and type-specific HPV mRNA. On the basis of the consistency of the results, although HPV11 and HPV31 E6 antibodies were associated with lung cancer risk in the retrospective study, no association was observed in the prospective design. Presence of type-specific antibodies correlated poorly with the presence of the corresponding HPV DNA in the tumor. Although nearly 10% of the lung tumors were positive for any HPV DNA (7% for HPV16 DNA), none expressed the viral oncogenes. No association was observed between HPV antibodies or DNA and lung cancer survival. In conclusion, we found no supportive evidence for the hypothesized causal association between HPV infections and lung cancer.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.