Can Epstein-Barr virus play a role in upper urinary tract urothelial carcinomas?

Upper urinary tract urothelial carcinomas are very rare tumours with different biological behaviours. The Epstein-Barr virus, which is the first known oncogenic virus, is being investigated for various malignant tumours. It is known that this virus is associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, as well as multiple haematological malignancies, head and neck and gastric cancers. We aimed to determine the presence of the Epstein-Barr virus in upper urinary tract urothelial carcinomas using chromogenic in situ hybridisation (CISH).

A total of 44 upper urinary tract urothelial carcinomas from two different centres were included. Demographic data and survival rates were obtained from hospital records. One demonstrative paraffin block from each case was stained using Epstein-Barr encoded RNA (EBER) with an automated CISH procedure. The positivity of EBER was statistically analysed for prognostic factors.

Among all patients, 38 were male and 6 were female. The mean age of the patients was 65.93 years. At the time of the study, 15 patients had died and 29 were alive. EBER-CISH positivity was found in 13 patients. Four showed strong EBER-CISH expression and nine showed weak expression. EBER-CISH positivity was not statistically related to any of the prognostic factors or to overall survival.

Although EBER-CISH positivity showed no significant relation with prognostic factors, it was observed in one-third of all cases. Therefore, we think that the Epstein-Barr virus may have a role in the pathogenesis of upper urinary tract urothelial carcinomas. This finding needs to be supported by larger studies.

Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 2020 Jun 15 [Epub ahead of print]

Y Dere, S Ekmekçi, I Akarken, Ü Küçük

Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Muğla, Turkey., Izmir Tepecik Training and Research Hospital, Izmir, Turkey., Department of Urology, Faculty of Medicine, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Muğla, Turkey.