Our previous studies have shown the presence of a high percentage of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection in the esophagus in the high-risk areas for esophageal cancer (EC) in China, where EC has been an endemic disease for generations. These data, being in alignment with the currently available evidence on the etiological role of HPV in the pathogenesis of squamous cell carcinomas at other mucosal sites, have implicated HPV as a potential etiological agent in human esophageal carcinogenesis as well. However, the previous studies have only included small numbers of biopies, well-organized and extensive epidemiological studies are urgently needed to assess the prevalence of esophageal HPV infections, and their association with esophageal carcinogenesis. During 1990-1992 our Chinese collaborators in Zhengzhou of China have collected a series of more than 2000 esophageal specimens derived from more than 700 patients suffering from a variety of esophageal squamous epithelial lesions, with pertinent clinical data available. Using multiple histopathological and DNA-detecting techniques which have been well established in our papillomavirus research laboratories in Kuopio of Finland and Heidelberg of Germany, such as light- and electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, DNA in situ hybridization, Southern blot and dot blot hybridization, polymerase chain reaction, single strand conformation polymorphism, as well as viral isolating, cloning and DNA sequencing techniques, we are planning to systematically evaluate the prevalence of HPV infections in the high-risk area for EC in China, the associations of infectious agents (particularly HPV) with esophageal cancer, and the synergistic actions between HPV and other carcinogenic factors as well as infectious agents, e.g., HSV, CMV, EBV, and fungi. Meanwhile, the prognostic factors for EC will be also analyzed in Siena of Italy by using immunohistochemical cytokeratin staining and multiple histoquantitive methods. These systematic evaluations of EC in the high-risk area using modern pathological and biological techniques could certainly obtain valuable information on the etiology, pathogenesis and prognosis of EC, and therefore provide reliable experimental data for prevention and treatment of this fatal disease in the future.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts