Merkel cell polyomavirus and extrapulmonary small cell carcinoma

August 2013
Oncology Letters;2013, Vol. 6 Issue 4, p1049
Academic Journal
The Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) is involved in the development of up to 100% of Merkel cell cancer (MCC) cases. Early studies have reported that the virus was infrequently detected in other small cell or neuroendocrine lung carcinomas, which share histological features with MCC. The present study investigated the presence of MCV in cases of extrapulmonary small cell carcinoma (ESCC), which also shares histological features with MCC. A total of 25 cases of ESCC that were diagnosed between 2004 and 2009 were identified at The Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Archived tissue was available for testing in 16 of these cases. A total of 11 tissue specimens of MCC were used as positive controls. DNA that was extracted from the archived tissue was subjected to five separate quantitative (q)PCR assays for the detection of four MCV genomic targets. MCV DNA was detected in 3/16 (19%) of the ESCCs and in all 11 MCCs. In the three MCV-positive ESCCs, the viral target was only detected by either one or two of the PCR assays. In 8/11 MCV-positive MCCs, the DNA tested positive by either three or all four assays and the remaining three MCCs tested positive by either one or two assays. The p-globin endogenous control was detected in all the samples that were tested. Although MCC and ESCC share numerous histological features, MCV is detected at a lower frequency in ESCC. The possible role for MCV in the etiology of ESCC remains uncertain and may account for the rare cases of ESCC with no other identifiable etiology. The failure of other assays to detect MCV may be due to sequence variability in the MCV genome.


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