Hepatitis C virus (HCV) was reported to associate with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in many studies. However, its correlation with prognosis of non-human papillomavirus (HPV) associated HNSCC remains unknown. Here, we sought to investigate clinical significance of HCV RNA transcript in non-HPV associated HNSCC by analyzing corresponding RNA-seq data.
A retrospective cohort study.
Four hundred and forty-eight non-HPV associated HNSCC patients with aligned RNA-seq and clinical follow-up data were included and divided into two groups: low-HCV and high-HCV. Means of continuous variables and proportions of categorical variables were compared using independent sample t-test and chi-square test, respectively. Survival data were compared using Cox regression analysis, Kaplan-Meier curves, and log-rank test. Expression of genome-wide mRNAs and abundance of immune cells were compared using volcano plot and cell signature estimated score analysis.
HCV RNA transcript negatively correlates with pathologic (P = .028) and clinical-stage (P = .023), clinical N stage (P = .025), and nodal extracapsular spread (P = .042) and is an independent prognosis factor in non-HPV associated HNSCC (HR = 1.488; 95% CI: 1.004-2.206; P = .048). Elevated expression of HCV improved 5-year overall survival (43.6% vs. 53.2%; P = .035) in all non-HPV associated HNSCC patients, the same as in male (46.6% vs. 58.7%; P = .049), clinical M0 stage (42.8% vs. 52.9%; P = .036), white (42.9% vs. 55.9%; P = .010), and histologic grade 1 to 2 subgroups (42.1% vs. 57.2%; P = .043). The expression of several immune-related genes and abundance of some immune cells significantly changed with the increase of HCV RNA transcript, while HCV-related oncogenes and tumor suppressor gene did not.
HCV RNA transcript is an independent favorable factor for prognosis of non-HPV associated HNSCC.
4 Laryngoscope, 2021.