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Analysis of colorectal cancers for human cytomegalovirus presence

Author(s): Bender Cecilia | Zipeto Donato | Bidoia Carlo | Costantini Silvia | Zamò Alberto | Menestrina Fabio | Bertazzoni Umberto

Journal: Infectious Agents and Cancer
ISSN 1750-9378

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 6;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Abstract Background A possible association between human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection and colorectal cancer progression has been inferred by the identification in tumour tissues of HCMV antigens and specific viral DNA or RNA sequences. To further investigate the relationship between HCMV and colorectal cancers we developed qualitative and quantitative PCR assay to detect HCMV DNA in 56 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples from patients belonging to 4 different histological phenotypes: adenoma; poorly, moderately and well differentiated adenocarcinomas. Results Of the 56 FFPE tested tissue samples, 6 (11%) were positive for HCMV nested PCR amplification, and more precisely 1 (5%) of 20 cases of adenoma and 5 (21%) of 24 cases of moderately differentiated adenocarcinoma. No PCR positivity was obtained in samples from well and poorly differentiated adenocarcinomas. Conclusion Our observations suggest that there is no evidence of a direct association between HCMV and colorectal cancer. Moreover, the results obtained are not supportive of a causal role of HCMV in the processes of carcinogenesis and/or progression of colorectal cancer. However, the fact that the virus may present a "hit and run" like-mechanism and HCMV can thus only be detectable at a particular stage of a processing adenocarcinoma, suggests that a significant number of colorectal cancers might have been the subject of HCMV infection that could contribute to trigger the oncogenic differentiation. Our analysis does not exclude the possibility of HCMV infection subsequent viral clearance.
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