High Prevalence of Human Polyomavirus 7 in Cholangiocarcinomas and Adjacent Peritumoral Hepatocytes: Preliminary Findings

Faisal Klufah, Ghalib Mobaraki, Emil Chteinberg, Raed A. Alharbi, Veronique Winnepenninckx, Ernst Jan M. Speel, Dorit Rennspiess, Steven W. Olde Damink, Ulf P. Neumann, Anna Kordelia Kurz, Iryna Samarska, Axel zur Hausen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Web of Science)


Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a rare biliary-duct malignancy with poor prognosis. Recently, the presence of the human polyomavirus 6 (HPyV6) has been reported in the bile of diverse hepatobiliary diseases, particularly in the bile of CCA patients. Here, we investigated the presence of novel HPyVs in CCA tissues using diverse molecular techniques to assess a possible role of HPyVs in CCA. Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded (FFPE) tissues of 42 CCA patients were included in this study. PCR-based screening for HPyVs was conducted using degenerated and HPyV-specific primers. Following that, we performed FISH, RNA in situ hybridization (RNA-ISH), and immunohistochemistry (IHC) to assess the presence of HPyVs in selected tissues. Of all 42 CCAs, 25 (59%) were positive for one HPyV, while 10 (24%) CCAs were positive for 2 HPyVs simultaneously, and 7 (17%) were negative for HPyVs. Of the total 35 positive CCAs, 19 (45%) were positive for HPyV7, 4 (9%) for HPyV6, 2 (5%) for Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV), 8 (19%) for both HPyV7/MCPyV, and 2 (5%) for both HPyV6/HPyV7 as confirmed by sequencing. The presence of viral nucleic acids was confirmed by specific FISH, while the RNA-ISH confirmed the presence of HPyV6 on the single-cell level. In addition, expression of HPyV7, HPyV6, and MCPyV proteins were confirmed by IHC. Our results strongly indicate that HPyV7, HPyV6, and MCPyV infect bile duct epithelium, hepatocytes, and CCA cells, which possibly suggest an indirect role of these viruses in the etiopathogenesis of CCA. Furthermore, the observed hepatotropism of these novel HPyV, in particular HPyV7, might implicate a role of these viruses in other hepatobiliary diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1125
Number of pages18
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • HPyV7
  • HPyV6
  • small DNA viruses
  • non-neoplastic hepatocytes
  • cancer
  • bile duct
  • Merkel cell polyomavirus
  • tumorigenesis
  • HPV

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