Immune cells markers within local tumor microenvironment are associated with EBV oncoprotein in nasopharyngeal cancer

Soehartati A. Gondhowiardjo, Marlinda Adham, Lisnawati Rachmadi, Tubagus Djumhana Atmakusuma, Demak Lumban Tobing, Mahesa Auzan, Agustinus Darmadi Hariyanto, Dede Sulaeman, Tiara Bunga Mayang Permata, Handoko

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: EBV infection in nasopharyngeal cancer ensued in latent infection mode. In this latent infection various EBV oncoproteins such as EBNA1 and LMP1 was expressed. EBV oncoproteins could theoretically recruit immune cells, which might help to control cancer. Therefore, this study was aimed to elucidate the association with EBV oncoproteins (EBNA1 and LMP1), immune markers (CD4, CD8, and FOXP3) from nasopharyngeal cancer microenvironment with tumor progression. Method: Nasopharyngeal biopsy was obtained from patients suspected to have nasopharyngeal cancer. Those samples with microscopically confirmed nasopharyngeal cancer were tested for EBNA1, LMP1, CD4, CD8, and FOXP3 concentration with ELISA, then verified with IHC. Each patient tumor volume was assessed for primary nasopharyngeal tumor volume (GTVp) and neck nodal metastases tumor volume (GTVn). Correlation test with Spearman correlation and scatterplot were carried out. Result: Total 23 samples with nasopharyngeal cancer were analyzed. There was moderate correlation (ρ = 0.45; p value = 0.032) between LMP1 and GTVp. There was strong correlation (ρ = 0.81; p value < 0.001) between CD8 and GTVp. There was also moderate correlation (ρ = 0.6; p value = 0.002) between FOXP3 and GTVp. The CD8 concentration has moderate correlation with both EBNA1 (ρ = 0.46; p value = 0.026) and LMP1 (ρ = 0.47; p value = 0.023). While FOXP3 has moderate correlation with only LMP1 (ρ = 0.58; p value = 0.004). No correlation was found between all the markers tested here with GTVn. Discussion: We found larger primary nasopharyngeal tumor was associated with higher CD8 marker. This was thought due to the presence of abundance CD8 T cells in the nasopharynx, but those abundance CD8 T cells were suspected to be dysfunctional. The nasopharyngeal cancer was also known to upregulate chemokines that could recruit T regulatory FOXP3 cells. Furthermore, T regulatory FOXP3 cells differentiation was induced through several pathways which was triggered by EBNA1. The correlation found in this study could guide further study to understand nasopharyngeal carcinogenesis and the relationship with our immune system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number887
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • EBV oncoproteins
  • Immune markers
  • Microenvironment
  • Nasopharyngeal cancer
  • Tumor progression


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