Human papillomavirus (HPV) and somatic EGFR mutations are essential, mutually exclusive oncogenic mechanisms for inverted sinonasal papillomas and associated sinonasal squamous cell carcinomas

Ann Oncol. 2018 Feb 1;29(2):466-471. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdx736.


Background: Inverted sinonasal (Schneiderian) papilloma (ISP) is a locally aggressive neoplasm often associated with sinonasal squamous cell carcinoma (SNSCC). While the etiology of ISP is not well understood, human papillomavirus (HPV) has been detected in a subset of cases. Our group recently identified activating somatic EGFR mutations in the majority of ISP and ISP-associated SNSCC. However, the relationship between EGFR mutations and HPV infection has not been explored.

Patients and methods: We evaluated 58 ISP and 22 ISP-associated SNSCC (including 13 patients with matched ISP/SNSCC samples), as well as 14 SNSCC without clinical or pathologic evidence of an associated ISP. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples were evaluated for EGFR mutations using Sanger sequencing and for HPV infection using GP5+/GP6+ PCR. HPV subtyping based on the L1 sequence was done for HPV positive cases including temporally distinct tumors for four patients. Clinicopathologic data including progression free survival was also analyzed.

Results: All ISP and ISP-associated SNSCC demonstrated either an EGFR mutation or HPV infection. HPV and EGFR mutation were mutually exclusive in all cases of ISP-associated SNSCC and all but one ISP; this case was only weakly HPV positive, and analysis of a prior temporally distinct ISP specimen from this patient failed to show HPV infection, suggesting transient infection/incidental colonization. HPV subtypes in ISP and ISP-associated SNSCC were predominantly low-risk, in contrast with SNSCC without ISP association, which showed frequent high-risk HPV. All paired ISP and associated SNSCC samples demonstrated concordant HPV status and EGFR genotypes. ISP progression to SNSCC was significantly associated with the presence of HPV infection and the absence of an EGFR mutation (log-rank = 9.620, P = 0.002).

Conclusions: Collectively our data show that EGFR mutations and HPV infection represent essential, alternative oncogenic mechanisms in ISP and ISP-associated SNSCC.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • ErbB Receptors / genetics
  • Female
  • Genes, erbB-1
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasms, Multiple Primary / etiology*
  • Papilloma, Inverted / etiology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications*
  • Paranasal Sinus Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Paranasal Sinuses
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / etiology*


  • EGFR protein, human
  • ErbB Receptors