Differential incidence of tongue base cancer in male and female hpv16-transgenic mice: role of female sex hormone receptors

Clariano Pires de Oliveira Neto, Beatriz Medeiros-Fonseca, Diogo Estêvão, Verónica F. Mestre, Natália R. Costa, Fábio Evangelista de Andrade, Paula A. Oliveira, Margarida M.S.M. Bastos, Rui Medeiros, Diogo Assis, Ana Félix, Fernanda Ferreira Lopes, Rui M. Gil da Costa, Haissa O. Brito, Luciane M.O. Brito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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A growing proportion of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OPSCC) are associated with infection by high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV). For reasons that remain largely unknown, HPV+OPSCC is significantly more common in men than in women. This study aims to determine the incidence of OPSCC in male and female HPV16-transgenic mice and to explore the role of female sex hormone receptors in the sexual predisposition for HPV+ OPSCC. The tongues of 30-weeks-old HPV16-transgenic male (n = 80) and female (n = 90) and matched wild-type male (n = 10) and female (n = 10) FVB/n mice were screened histologically for intraepithelial and invasive lesions in 2017 at the Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences (CITAB), Por-tugal. Expression of estrogen receptors alpha (ERα) and beta (ERβ), progesterone receptors (PR) and matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP2) was studied immunohistochemically. Collagen remodeling was studied using picrosirius red. Female mice showed robust ERα and ERβ expression in intraepithelial and invasive lesions, which was accompanied by strong MMP2 expression and marked collagen remodeling. Male mice showed minimal ERα, ERβ and MMP2 expression and unaltered collagen patterns. These results confirm the association of HPV16 with tongue base cancer in both sexes. The higher cancer incidence in female versus male mice contrasts with data from OPSCC patients and is associated with enhanced ER expression via MMP2 upregulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1224
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Collagen
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Matrix metalloproteinase
  • Progesterone receptor
  • Tongue base cancer


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