Background/Aims: Esophagus squamous cell carcinoma has much geographic variation. A variety of genetic and environmental factors have been implicated in the pathogenesis of esophagus squamous cell carcinoma. This study was undertaken to determine whether the human papillomavirus is present in these tumors. Methods: A radioactive nested polymerase chain reaction was used to determine the presence of human papillomavirus in esophagus squamous cell carcinoma DNA and adjacent normal mucosa DNA from different regions of the world. Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis was used to determine which particular human papillomavirus genotype was present. Results: Human papillomavirus was identified in 14% of esophageal squamous cell cancer DNA but in none of the adjacent normal mucosa DNA available for some of the samples. Positive samples were found to contain sequences specific for high-risk human papillomaviruses, either types 16 or 18. In addition, a novel human papillomavirus genotype was detected in another 10% of the samples. Conclusions: Esophagus squamous cell carcinoma is associated with the expression of human papillomavirus genotypes 16 and 18, which are linked to transformation of squamous epithelial cells. In addition, a novel human papillomavirus genotype that was identified may be associated with pathogenesis in esophagus squamous cell cancer.
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