Methylation of p16 is an important mechanism in cervical carcinogenesis. However, the relationship between cervical squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) remains controversial. Here, we explored whether EBV infection and/or p16 gene inactivation would play any role in cervical carcinogenesis. Eighty-two specimens included 41 invasive SCCs, 30 cervical intraepithelial neoplasm (CIN; CIN 1, 11 cases, CIN II, 3 cases, CIN III 16 cases) and 11 nonneoplastic cervices. EBV was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for EBNA-1 and in situ hybridization for EBER-1. The p16 methylation-status and the expression of p16 protein were studied by methylation-specific PCR and immunohistochemistry, respectively. The materials were divided into four groups: 1) nonneoplastic cervices, 2) CIN I, 3) CIN II-III and 4) invasive SCCs. p16 methylation and p16 immunoexpressions increased in CIN and invasive SCCs than nonneoplastic tissue. p16-methylation and p16-immunoreactivities were higher in the EBV-positive group (p=0.009, p<0.001) than in the EBV-negative group. EBV was detected more frequently in CIN and SCCs than nonneoplastic cervices. In conclusion, a correlation between p16 methylation, p16 immunoreactivity and the detection of EBV strongly suggested that the cooperation of EBV and p16 gene may play a synergic effect on cell cycle deregulation.
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