Cutaneotropic Polyomavirus Abundance in the Non-lesional Skin of Keratinocyte Carcinoma Patients: A Cross-sectional Study

Published: 1 July 2024| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/6b8ppw8tmw.1
Eray Yihui Zhou, Yun Xia, Tomonori Oka, Hiroshi Higuchi, Tatsuya Hasegawa, Jong Ho Park, Emanuela Marchese, Valeria Oliver-García, Marjan Azin, Danielle Conrad, Sabrina Smith, Victor Neel, Shadmehr Demehri


Background: The relationship between human polyomavirus (HPyV), keratinocyte carcinoma (KC), and T cell immunity is controversial. Objective: To characterize the abundance of the three most prevalent cutaneotropic HPyVs in basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) patients. Methods: This cross-sectional study quantitatively examined Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV), HPyV6, and HPyV7 in non-lesional skin tissues from head BCC and cSCC patients. Immunofluorescence characterizations of the skin T cell populations were performed in a subgroup of cases. Results: Of the 100 non-lesional head skin samples (67 BCC, 33 cSCC), there was a significantly elevated frequency of MCPyV in cSCC patients compared with BCC patients (OR, 6.30; 95%CI, 1.25-31.82; P = 0.026). The viral load of MCPyV was also significantly higher in cSCC cases (P = 0.038). In a subgroup of 13 BCC and 14 cSCC cases, significantly fewer skin-infiltrating CD3+ T (P < 0.001), CD8+CD3+ T (P < 0.001), and CD103+CD8+CD3+ tissue-resident memory T cells (P = 0.003) were identified in cSCC patients. Limitations: The sample size was limited. Conclusion: The association between HPyV and KC subtypes might reflect the role of T cells in controlling viral activity and cSCC development and potentially be utilized for cancer risk assessment.