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1.  Biphenotypic human papillomavirus-associated head and neck squamous cell carcinoma: a report of two cases 
Diagnostic Pathology  2015;10:97.
Human papillomavirus-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma is now recognised as a subtype of head and neck cancer with distinct clinical, molecular and histological characteristics. The majority of these carcinomas are of non-keratinising squamous type but there is a growing number of histomorphologic variants of this disease. Here we describe the clinical, histomorphologic and immunophenotypic features of two cases of human papillomavirus-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma demonstrating a clearly delineated biphasic differentiated and undifferentiated phenotype.
PMCID: PMC4501075  PMID: 26169909
Biphasic; Biphenotypic; Differentiated; Human papillomavirus; Oropharyngeal; Squamous cell carcinoma; Undifferentiated; Variant
2.  Dermatophytes Activate Skin Keratinocytes via Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Signaling and Induce Immune Responses 
Infection and Immunity  2015;83(4):1705-1714.
Dermatophytes cause superficial and cutaneous fungal infections in immunocompetent hosts and invasive disease in immunocompromised hosts. However, the host mechanisms that regulate innate immune responses against these fungi are largely unknown. Here, we utilized commercially available epidermal tissues and primary keratinocytes to assess (i) damage induction by anthropophilic, geophilic, and zoophilic dermatophyte strains and (ii) the keratinocyte signaling pathways, transcription factors, and proinflammatory responses induced by a representative dermatophyte, Trichophyton equinum. Initially, five dermatophyte species were tested for their ability to invade, cause tissue damage, and induce cytokines, with Microsporum gypseum inducing the greatest level of damage and cytokine release. Using T. equinum as a representative dermatophyte, we found that the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways were predominantly affected, with increased levels of phospho-p38 and phospho-Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK) but decreased levels of phospho-extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2). Notably, the NF-κB and PI3K pathways were largely unaffected. T. equinum also significantly increased expression of the AP-1-associated transcription factor, c-Fos, and the MAPK regulatory phosphatase, MKP1. Importantly, the ability of T. equinum to invade, cause tissue damage, activate signaling and transcription factors, and induce proinflammatory responses correlated with germination, indicating that germination may be important for dermatophyte virulence and host immune activation.
PMCID: PMC4363423  PMID: 25667269
3.  Oncogenic human papillomavirus-associated nasopharyngeal carcinoma: an observational study of correlation with ethnicity, histological subtype and outcome in a UK population 
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) accounts for 0.6% of all cancers worldwide with the highest prevalence in South East Asia, Southern China and Northern Africa but the disease is uncommon in Europe with an annual incidence in this region of less than 1 per 100 000. Although the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a well known causative agent in NPC, recent reports have implicated oncogenic Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in a subgroup of these tumours. The recent striking rise of oropharyngeal carcinoma has been attributed to HPV, but little is known about the prevalence and clinical significance of the virus in NPC. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of oncogenic HPV in NPC from tissue archives of two head and neck cancer centres in the UK.
Samples were available for 67 patients with clinically validated NPC. The detection of high-risk HPV was carried out by screening all cases for p16 using immunohistochemistry and HPV DNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using GP5+/6+ primers. All cases with p16 over-expression or positive for HPV by PCR were then examined by high-risk HPV DNA in-situ hybridisation and genotype analysis by PCR.
Eleven cases (11/67, 16.4%) showed concurrent over-expression of p16 and evidence of high-risk HPV DNA by in-situ hybridisation; the majority were HPV16 positive. Of these 11 cases, nine occurred in Whites and two in Blacks. Histologically, there were two keratinising squamous cell carcinoma and nine non-keratinising carcinomas (eight differentiated and one undifferentiated). None of the HPV-positive cases showed any co-infection with EBV. There was no statistically significant difference in overall survival outcome between patients with HPV-positive and HPV-negative NPC.
The results of this study show that oncogenic HPV is associated with a subgroup of NPCs and is more likely to occur in Whites. However, unlike oropharyngeal carcinoma there was no significant difference in overall survival between patients with HPV-positive and HPV-negative NPC.
PMCID: PMC3751535  PMID: 23938045
Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; Human papillomavirus; Epstein-Barr virus
4.  HPV Specific Testing: A Requirement for Oropharyngeal Squamous Cell Carcinoma Patients 
Head and Neck Pathology  2012;6(Suppl 1):83-90.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing is now recommended as part of the work up for patients with oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC) and those patients with cervical lymph node metastasis of unknown origin. The laboratory testing strategy should accurately assess the presence or absence of oncogenic HPV infection in routinely collected tumour samples that are subject to standard fixation protocols, alcohol-fixed cytological preparations and formalin-fixed tissue samples. The HPV status should correlate with biologically relevant outcome measures such as overall, disease-specific and disease-free survival. Whilst increased expression of p16 by immunohistochemistry is considered to be a surrogate marker of oncogenic HPV infection and is a validated independent prognostic biomarker, only HPV specific tests provide definitive evidence of the aetiological agent. We provide an overview of HPV testing in OPSCC, justifying the use of HPV specific tests. We examine the analytical accuracy of HPV specific tests against the ‘reference’ test—high risk HPV mRNA in fresh tissue—and contrast this with the performance of p16 immunohistochemistry as a stand alone test. We highlight the added value of HPV specific tests in prognostication, clinical trial design, and population-based disease surveillance. We consider that HPV specific testing is the starting point for developing increasingly informative biomarker panels in the context of ‘stratified medicine’. We briefly frame test information in the context of disclosure of HPV status to patients. We conclude that only a testing strategy that includes HPV specific tests can deliver more effective care for patients with OPSCC. The international head and neck oncology community should work together to clearly define the minimum requirements for assigning a diagnosis of HPV-related OPSCC in order to ensure consistent reporting of this emerging and increasingly prevalent disease.
PMCID: PMC3394162  PMID: 22782227
Oropharynx; Squamous cell carcinoma; Human papillomavirus; Molecular diagnosis
5.  Human Papillomavirus-associated oropharyngeal cancer: an observational study of diagnosis, prevalence and prognosis in a UK population 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:220.
The incidence of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) associated oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) is increasing. HPV-associated OPC appear to have better prognosis than HPV-negative OPC. The aim of this study was to robustly determine the prevalence of HPV-positive OPC in an unselected UK population and correlate HPV positivity with clinical outcome.
HPV testing by GP5+/6+ PCR, In Situ Hybridisation (ISH) and p16 immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed on 138 OPCs diagnosed in South Wales (UK) between 2001–06. Kaplan-Meier analysis was used to correlate HPV status with clinical outcome.
Using a composite definition of HPV positivity (HPV DNA and p16 overexpression), HPV was detected in 46/83 (55%) samples where DNA quality was assured. Five year overall survival was 75.4% (95% CI: 65.2 to 85.5) in HPV-positives vs 25.3% (95% CI: 14.2 to 36.4) in HPV negatives, corresponding to a 78% reduction in death rate (HR 0.22, p < 0.001). HPV-positives had less locoregional recurrence but second HPV-positive Head and Neck primaries occurred. Poor quality DNA in fixed pathological specimens reduced both HPV prevalence estimates and the prognostic utility of DNA-based HPV testing methods. As a single marker, p16 was least affected by sample quality and correlated well with prognosis, although was not sufficient on its own for accurate HPV prevalence reporting.
This study highlights the significant burden of OPC associated with HPV infection. HPV positive cases are clinically distinct from other OPC, and are associated with significantly better clinical outcomes. A composite definition of HPV positivity should be used for accurate prevalence reporting and up-front DNA quality assessment is recommended for any DNA-based HPV detection strategy.
PMCID: PMC3644265  PMID: 23634887
Oropharyngeal; Oropharynx; Cancer; HPV; Papillomavirus; Prognosis; Tonsil
6.  Glycosylation of Candida albicans Cell Wall Proteins Is Critical for Induction of Innate Immune Responses and Apoptosis of Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50518.
C. albicans is one of the most common fungal pathogen of humans, causing local and superficial mucosal infections in immunocompromised individuals. Given that the key structure mediating host-C. albicans interactions is the fungal cell wall, we aimed to identify features of the cell wall inducing epithelial responses and be associated with fungal pathogenesis. We demonstrate here the importance of cell wall protein glycosylation in epithelial immune activation with a predominant role for the highly branched N-glycosylation residues. Moreover, these glycan moieties induce growth arrest and apoptosis of epithelial cells. Using an in vitro model of oral candidosis we demonstrate, that apoptosis induction by C. albicans wild-type occurs in early stage of infection and strongly depends on intact cell wall protein glycosylation. These novel findings demonstrate that glycosylation of the C. albicans cell wall proteins appears essential for modulation of epithelial immunity and apoptosis induction, both of which may promote fungal pathogenesis in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3511564  PMID: 23226301
7.  Carcinoma Cuniculatum Arising in the Tongue 
Head and Neck Pathology  2011;6(1):130-134.
Carcinoma cuniculatum (CC) is a rare, distinct clinico-pathological variant of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) that is defined histologically by the characteristic infiltrative pattern of a deep, broad, and complex proliferation of stratified squamous epithelium with keratin cores and keratin-filled crypts. Herein, we present a case report of CC of the oral tongue and discuss its diagnosis, management, and outcome, as well as briefly review the world literature. To our knowledge, this is the first documented case of CC of the tongue to be reported in the English literature. We draw attention to its clinico-pathological features and highlight that awareness of this entity as a distinct variant of SCC facilitates its correct management.
PMCID: PMC3311953  PMID: 21643820
Carcinoma cuniculatum; Verrucous carcinoma; Squamous cell carcinoma; Tongue
8.  Murine model of concurrent oral and vaginal Candida albicans colonization to study epithelial host–pathogen interactions 
We report the creation of a new low-estrogen murine model of concurrent oral and vaginal C. albicans colonization that resembles human candidal carriage at both mucosal sites. Weekly estrogen administration of 5 μg intramuscular and subcutaneously was optimal for enhancement of oral colonization and was essential for vaginal colonization. In BALB/c mice, a number of C. albicans clinical isolates (n = 3) colonized both oral and/or vaginal sites, but only strain 529L colonized 100% of mice persistently for over 5 weeks. Laboratory strains SC5314 and NCPF 3153 did not colonize the model; however, NCPF 3156 showed vaginal colonization up to week 5. Prior passaging through mice enhanced subsequent colonization of SC5314. Intranasal immunization with a C. albicans virulence antigen (secreted aspartyl proteinase 2) significantly reduced or abolished the fungal burden orally and vaginally by week 2 and 7. Our concurrent model of mucosal colonization reduces the numbers of experimental mice by half, can be used to assess potential vaccine candidates, and permits the detailed analysis of host–fungal interactions during the natural state of Candida colonization.
PMCID: PMC3242973  PMID: 17383212
Candida albicans; Animal model; Oral; Vaginal
9.  Candida albicans Yeast and Hyphae are Discriminated by MAPK Signaling in Vaginal Epithelial Cells 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26580.
We previously reported that a bi-phasic innate immune MAPK response, constituting activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) phosphatase MKP1 and c-Fos transcription factor, discriminates between the yeast and hyphal forms of Candida albicans in oral epithelial cells (ECs). Since the vast majority of mucosal Candida infections are vaginal, we sought to determine whether a similar bi-phasic MAPK-based immune response was activated by C. albicans in vaginal ECs. Here, we demonstrate that vaginal ECs orchestrate an innate response to C. albicans via NF-κB and MAPK signaling pathways. However, unlike in oral ECs, the first MAPK response, defined by c-Jun transcription factor activation, is delayed until 2 h in vaginal ECs but is still independent of hypha formation. The ‘second’ or ‘late’ MAPK response, constituting MKP1 and c-Fos transcription factor activation, is identical to oral ECs and is dependent upon both hypha formation and fungal burdens. NF-κB activation is immediate but independent of morphology. Furthermore, the proinflammatory response in vaginal ECs is different to oral ECs, with an absence of G-CSF and CCL20 and low level IL-6 production. Therefore, differences exist in how C. albicans activates signaling mechanisms in oral and vaginal ECs; however, the activation of MAPK-based pathways that discriminate between yeast and hyphal forms is retained between these mucosal sites. We conclude that this MAPK-based signaling pathway is a common mechanism enabling different human epithelial tissues to orchestrate innate immune responses specifically against C. albicans hyphae.
PMCID: PMC3210759  PMID: 22087232
10.  MAPK, MKP1 and c-Fos Discriminate Candida albicans Yeast from Hyphae in Epithelial Cells 
Cell host & microbe  2010;8(3):225-235.
Host mechanisms enabling discrimination between the commensal and pathogenic states of opportunistic pathogens are critical in mucosal defense and homeostasis. Here, we demonstrate that oral epithelial cells orchestrate an innate response to the human fungal pathogen Candida albicans via NF-κB and a bi-phasic MAPK response. Activation of NF-κB and the first MAPK phase, constituting c-Jun activation, is independent of morphology and due to the recognition of fungal cell wall structures. Activation of the second MAPK phase, constituting MKP1 and c-Fos activation, is dependent upon hypha-formation and fungal burdens, and correlates with proinflammatory responses. This MAPK-based discriminatory pathway may provide a mechanism for epithelial tissues to remain quiescent in the presence of low fungal burdens whilst responding specifically and strongly to damage-inducing hyphae when burdens increase. MAPK/MKP1/c-Fos activation may thus comprise a `danger response' pathway in vivo and may be critical in identifying when this normally commensal fungus has become pathogenic.
PMCID: PMC2991069  PMID: 20833374
11.  A Biphasic Innate Immune MAPK Response Discriminates between the Yeast and Hyphal Forms of Candida albicans in Epithelial Cells 
Cell Host & Microbe  2010;8(3):225-235.
Discriminating between commensal and pathogenic states of opportunistic pathogens is critical for host mucosal defense and homeostasis. The opportunistic human fungal pathogen Candida albicans is also a constituent of the normal oral flora and grows either as yeasts or hyphae. We demonstrate that oral epithelial cells orchestrate an innate response to C. albicans via NF-κB and a biphasic MAPK response. Activation of NF-κB and the first MAPK phase, constituting c-Jun activation, is independent of morphology and due to fungal cell wall recognition. Activation of the second MAPK phase, constituting MKP1 and c-Fos activation, is dependent upon hypha formation and fungal burdens and correlates with proinflammatory responses. Such biphasic response may allow epithelial tissues to remain quiescent under low fungal burdens while responding specifically and strongly to damage-inducing hyphae when burdens increase. MAPK/MKP1/c-Fos activation may represent a “danger response” pathway that is critical for identifying and responding to the pathogenic switch of commensal microbes.
► NF-κB and MAPK control epithelial effector responses against Candida albicans ► c-Jun activation is independent of morphology and due to fungal cell wall recognition ► MAPK/MKP-1/c-Fos pathway activation is dependent on fungal hyphae and burdens ► MAPK discriminatory response may dictate C. albicans mucosal colonization in vivo
PMCID: PMC2991069  PMID: 20833374

Results 1-11 (11)