(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein Barr virus (EBV) may be oncogenic in prostate tissues, according to a team of Australian researchers. This conclusion is based on an article entitled “Human papillomavirus and Epstein Barr virus in prostate cancer: Koilocytes indicate potential oncogenic influences of human papillomavirus in prostate cancer,” which was published online in The Prostate on July 31.

In this study, the investigators aimed to determine if high risk strains of HPV and EBV are both present in the same prostate cancer specimens. By using a molecular biology laboratory method known as in situ polymerase chain reaction (IS-PCR) in which the viral DNA could be amplified inside the tissue for later detection and DNA sequencing, the investigators were enabled to detect the presence of HPV and EBV in normal, benign, and malignant prostate tissues.

Surprisingly, the investigators detected both HPV type 18 and EBV gene sequences in varying proportions in normal, benign, and prostate cancer specimens. HPV-18 is a highly pathogenic strain that causes cervical cancer and is one of the strains protected against by the cervical cancer vaccine Gardisil® (Merck & Co., Whitehouse Station, NJ). Histologically, the specimens were unremarkable, except for the presence of HPV associated koilocytes in 24% of them.

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The investigators concluded: “Because the presence of EBV and HPV in normal, benign and malignant prostate tissues appears to be ubiquitous, it is possible that they are harmless. On the other hand, HPV type 18, in particular, has high oncogenic potential and may be associated with some prostate cancers.”

Although the study did not establish that HPV causes prostate cancer, the fact that this virus is present within prostate tumors suggests that immunizing boys against HPV may prevent prostate cancer in the future.