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See detailCervical squamocolumnar junction-specific markers define distinct, clinically relevant subsets of low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions.
Herfs, Michael ULg; Parra-Herran, Carlos; Howitt, Brooke E. et al

in The American journal of surgical pathology (2013), 37(9), 1311-8

Low-grade cervical squamous abnormalities (low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions [LSIL, CIN1]) can be confused with or followed by high-grade (HSIL, CIN2/3) lesions, expending considerable resources ... [more ▼]

Low-grade cervical squamous abnormalities (low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions [LSIL, CIN1]) can be confused with or followed by high-grade (HSIL, CIN2/3) lesions, expending considerable resources. Recently, a cell of origin for cervical neoplasia was proposed in the squamocolumnar junction (SCJ); HSILs are almost always SCJ, but LSILs include SCJ and SCJ subsets. Abnormal cervical biopsies from 214 patients were classified by 2 experienced pathologists (panel) as LSIL or HSIL using published criteria. SILs were scored SCJ and SCJ using SCJ-specific antibodies (keratin7, AGR2, MMP7, and GDA). Assessments of interobserver agreement, p16 staining pattern, proliferative index, and outcome were compared. The original diagnostician agreed with the panel diagnosis of HSIL and SCJ LSIL in all cases (100%). However, for SCJ LSIL, panelists disagreed with each other by 15% and with the original diagnostician by 46.2%. Comparing SCJ and SCJ LSILs, 60.2% and 94.9% were p16 positive, 23% and 74.4% showed strong (full-thickness) p16 staining, and 0/54 (0%) and 8/33 (24.2%) with follow-up had an HSIL outcome, respectively. Some SCJ LSILs are more likely to both generate diagnostic disagreement and be associated with HSIL. Conversely, SCJ LSILs generate little observer disagreement and, when followed, have a very low risk of HSIL outcome. Thus, SCJ biomarkers in conjunction with histology may segregate LSILs with very low risk of HSIL outcome and conceivably could be used as a management tool to reduce excess allocation of resources to the follow-up of these lesions. [less ▲]

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See detailGiant Condyloma of the Cervix: An Uncommon Entity Associated With Low-risk Human Papilloma Virus Infection.
Parra-Herran, Carlos; Herfs, Michael ULg; Doria, Manuel et al

in American Journal of Surgical Pathology (2013), 37(2), 300-4

"Giant Condylomas" of the cervix are very uncommon, and have not been fully characterized in the English literature. We report 4 cases of cervical giant condyloma seen in our practice. Patients were ... [more ▼]

"Giant Condylomas" of the cervix are very uncommon, and have not been fully characterized in the English literature. We report 4 cases of cervical giant condyloma seen in our practice. Patients were predominantly young and presented with a cervical lesion producing bleeding or a mass effect. Biopsy/excision revealed a uniformly bland, exophytic squamous epithelial proliferation with viral cytopathic changes and absence of stromal invasion. Human papilloma virus types 6 and 11 were detected in all cases. Follow-up was uneventful without recurrence or spread. Giant condylomas of the cervix as defined in this report signify a benign albeit extensive variant of low-risk human papilloma virus infection. This term is proposed as a specific descriptor for such lesions and should be considered in the setting of any large well-differentiated exophytic cervical squamous lesion in young or immunosuppressed women. The term "giant condyloma of Buschke and Loewenstein" should be discontinued given the lack of specificity. [less ▲]

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See detailLaboratory management of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia: proposing a new paradigm
Herfs, Michael ULg; Crum, Christopher

in Advances in Anatomic Pathology (2013)

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See detailA novel blueprint for "top down" differentiation defines the cervical squamocolumnar junction during development, reproductive life and neoplasia.
Herfs, Michael ULg; Vargas, Sara O.; Yamamoto, Yusuke et al

in Journal of Pathology (The) (2013), 229(3), 460-8

The cervical squamocolumnar (SC) junction is the site of a recently discovered "embryonic" cell population that was proposed as the cell of origin for cervical cancer and its precursors. How this ... [more ▼]

The cervical squamocolumnar (SC) junction is the site of a recently discovered "embryonic" cell population that was proposed as the cell of origin for cervical cancer and its precursors. How this population participates in cervical remodeling and neoplasia is unclear. In the present study, we analyzed the SC junction immunophenotype during pre and postnatal human and mouse development and in the adult, processes of metaplastic evolution of SC junction, microglandular change and early cervical neoplasia. Early in life, embryonic cervical epithelial cells were seen throughout the cervix and subsequently diminished in number to become concentrated at the SC junction in the adult. In all settings, there was a repetitive scenario in which cuboidal embryonic/SC junction cells gave rise to subjacent metaplastic basal/reserve cells with a switch from the SC junction positive to negative immunophenotype. This downward or basal (rather than upward or apical) evolution from progenitor cell to metaplastic progeny was termed reverse or "top down" differentiation. A similar pattern was noted in high grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL), suggesting HPV infection of the cuboidal SC junction cells initiated outgrowth of basally-oriented neoplastic progeny. The progressive loss of the embryonic/SC junction markers occurred with top-down differentiation during development, remodeling and early neoplasia. Interestingly, most low grade SILs were SC junction negative, implying infection of metaplastic progeny rather than the original SC junction cells. This proposed model of "top down" differentiation resolves the mystery of how SC junction cells both remodel the cervix and participate in neoplasia and provides for a second population of metaplastic progeny (including basal and reserve cells), the infection of which is paradoxically less likely to produce a biologically aggressive precursor. It also provides new targets in animal models to determine why the SC junction is uniquely susceptible to carcinogenic HPV infection. Copyright (c) 2012 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [less ▲]

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See detailA discrete population of squamocolumnar junction cells implicated in the pathogenesis of cervical cancer.
Herfs, Michael ULg; Yamamoto, Yusuke; Laury, Anna et al

in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (2012), 109(26), 10516-21

Infection by carcinogenic human papillomaviruses (HPV) results in precancers [cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)] and cancers near the ectoendocervical squamocolumnar (SC) junction of the cervix ... [more ▼]

Infection by carcinogenic human papillomaviruses (HPV) results in precancers [cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)] and cancers near the ectoendocervical squamocolumnar (SC) junction of the cervix. However, the specific cells targeted by HPV have not been identified and the cellular origin of cervical cancer remains elusive. In this study, we uncovered a discrete population of SC junctional cells with unique morphology and gene-expression profile. We also demonstrated that the selected junctional biomarkers were expressed by a high percentage of high-grade CIN and cervical cancers associated with carcinogenic HPVs but rarely in ectocervical/transformation zone CINs or those associated with noncarcinogenic HPVs. That the original SC junction immunophenotype was not regenerated at new SC junctions following excision, not induced by expression of viral oncoproteins in foreskin keratinocytes, and not seen in HPV-related precursors of the vagina, vulva, and penis further support the notion that junctional cells are the source of cervical cancer. Taken together, our findings suggest that carcinogenic HPV-related CINs and cervical cancers are linked to a small, discrete cell population that localizes to the SC junction of the cervix, expresses a unique gene expression signature, and is not regenerated after excision. The findings in this study uncover a potential target for cervical cancer prevention, provide insight into the risk assessment of cervical lesions, and establish a model for elucidating the pathway to cervical cancer following carcinogenic HPV infection. [less ▲]

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See detailBarrett's metaplasia, dysplasia and esophageal ademnocarcinoma: an inadequate antitumour immunity?
Somja, Joan ULg; Demoulin, Stéphanie ULg; Herman, Ludivine et al

Conference (2012, February 09)

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See detailA candidate cell of origin for cervical cancer
Herfs, Michael ULg; Yamamoto; Laury et al

in Modern Pathology : An Official Journal of the United States & Canadian Academy of Pathology, Inc (2012, February), 25(2), 4-552

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See detailImmature Metaplastic CIN1: A Variant with Intense P16 Staining and Low Proliferative Index
Parra-Herran, Christopher P.; Lane, Bruno; Hirsch, MS et al

Poster (2012)

Background: Epithelial maturation traditionally is used to grade CIN in histologic sections. However, in some an immature epithelium displays atypia that is low in proportion to the level of epithelial ... [more ▼]

Background: Epithelial maturation traditionally is used to grade CIN in histologic sections. However, in some an immature epithelium displays atypia that is low in proportion to the level of epithelial maturity. Although MIB1 and p16ink4 are helpul in establishing the diagnosis of CIN in this setting, classifying such lesions can be problematic. We analyzed a subset of these atypias, and this study summarizes a correlation between morphology and p16 and MIB1 immunostaining. Design: Immature metaplastic atypias were divided into those with putative low (uniform nuclear spacing, minimal nuclear variation, absent or mild nuclear hyperchromasia) and high-grade (irregular nuclear spacing, heterogeneous nuclear morphology, increased nuclear chromasia) features. Immunohistochemical staining for p16 was classifi ed as patchy or diffuse (horizontally) and MIB-1 proliferation index was recorded as percentage of positive cells and location of elevated proliferative index as a function of basal, middle and superfi cial third of the epithelium. Staining patterns and histologic grade were correlated. Results: Forty-three cases were classified without knowledge of the immunohistochemistry. Immature metaplastic low grade CINs exhibited strong and diffuse staining for p16 and but unlike High grade CINs, the proliferating (MIB1+) cells were concentrated in the more basal 1-2 thirds of the epithelium and the proliferative index was less than 30%. Variable columnar differentiation was observed in some, with strong staining of both the columnar and squamous cells by p16. Conclusions: A distinct subset of immature CINs displays a uniform cell population and based on both cytology and proliferative index, warrants classifi cation as low grade CIN (CIN1). p16 immunohistochemistry, although helpful in the recognition of these lesions, will not distinguish them from higher grade CIN (CIN2/3). Attention to regularity in nuclear morphology with absence of noticeable differences in cell size and shape, combined with MIB1 staining, is helpful,. The presence of columnar differentiation, which also stains positive for p16 is consistent with bidirectional differentiation in the transformation zone epithelium. Further studies of this entity are warranted to precisely determine its biologic behavior. [less ▲]

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See detailA candidate cell of origin for cervical cancer
Herfs, Michael ULg

Conference (2012)

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See detailProinflammatory Cytokines Induce Bronchial Hyperplasia and Squamous Metaplasia in Smokers: Implications for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease therapy.
Herfs, Michael ULg; Hubert, Pascale ULg; POIRRIER, Anne-Lise ULg et al

in American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology (2012), 47(1), 67-79

Tracheobronchial squamous metaplasia is common in smokers and is associated with both airway obstruction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and increased risk of lung cancer. Whereas this ... [more ▼]

Tracheobronchial squamous metaplasia is common in smokers and is associated with both airway obstruction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and increased risk of lung cancer. Whereas this reversible epithelial replacement is almost always observed in association with chronic inflammation, the role of inflammatory mediators in the pathogenesis of squamous metaplasia is still unclear. In the present study, we investigated the implication of cigarette smoke-mediated pro-inflammatory cytokine up-regulation in the development and treatment of tracheobronchial epithelial hyperplasia and squamous metaplasia. By using immunohistological techniques, we showed a higher epithelial expression of TNFalpha, IL-1beta and IL-6 as well as an activation of NF-kappaB and AP-1/MAPK signalling pathways in the respiratory tract of smoking patients compared to the normal ciliated epithelium of non-smoking patients. In addition, we demonstrated that these signalling pathways strongly influence the proliferation and the differentiation state of in vitro generated normal human airway epithelial basal cells. Finally, we exposed mice to cigarette smoke for 16 weeks and demonstrated that anti-TNFalpha (etanercept), anti-IL-1beta (anakinra) and/or anti-IL-6R (tocilizumab) therapies significantly reduced epithelial hyperplasia and squamous metaplasia development. These data highlight the importance of soluble inflammatory mediators in the pathogenesis of tracheobronchial squamous metaplasia. Therefore, administration of pro-inflammatory cytokine antagonists may have clinical application in the management of COPD patients. [less ▲]

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See detailMucosal junctions: open doors to HPV and HIV infections?
Herfs, Michael ULg; Hubert, Pascale ULg; Moutschen, Michel ULg et al

in Trends in microbiology (2011), 19(3), 114-120

Throughout adult life, new developmental commitment of adult stem cells causes reversible epithelial replacements in various mucosal surfaces, including the uterine cervix and the anal canal. Located at ... [more ▼]

Throughout adult life, new developmental commitment of adult stem cells causes reversible epithelial replacements in various mucosal surfaces, including the uterine cervix and the anal canal. Located at the squamocolumnar junctions, these metaplastic conversions are associated with chronic inflammation and deregulated expression of soluble and cell-membrane factors important for antiviral immune response. In this paper, we propose that these histological and immunological features increase the susceptibility of these metaplastic microenvironments to human papillomavirus and human immunodeficiency virus infections. Identification of the anatomical sites and cell populations within the anogenital tract, which is the site primary infected by these viruses, is crucial for the understanding of the pathogenesis of viral disease and development of antiviral strategies. [less ▲]

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See detailCombined analysis of HPV DNA, p16, p21 and p53 to predict prognosis in patients with stage IV hypopharyngeal carcinoma.
Ernoux-Neufcoeur, P.; Arafa, M.; Decaestecker, C. et al

in Journal of Cancer Research & Clinical Oncology (2011), 137(1), 173-81

PURPOSE: We examined p16, p21 and p53 expression in combination with the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA as molecular markers to predict survival in patients with stage IV hypopharyngeal ... [more ▼]

PURPOSE: We examined p16, p21 and p53 expression in combination with the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA as molecular markers to predict survival in patients with stage IV hypopharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (HSCC). METHODS: Paraffin-embedded tumours from HSCC patients (n = 75) were evaluated for p16, p21 and p53 expression by immunohistochemistry. HPV DNA was detected by GP5+/6+ consensus PCR and subsequent genotyping by E6/E7 type-specific PCR for HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 59, 66 and 68. RESULTS: Among the 61 specimens that tested positive for the beta-globin, HPV typing identified 50 patients with high-risk (hr) HPV types. HPV 16E7 DNA was detected in 74% (37 cases) of these specimens. Twelve patients were found to be infected with multiple HPV types. However, the presence of hrHPV DNA was not found to correlate with the proportion of disease-free patients. The 5-year disease-free survival rate was 73% in p53- tumours versus 48% in p53+ tumours (P = 0.008). CONCLUSION: In our series of patients with stage IV HSCC, the hrHPV+ subgroup had a similar prognosis (in terms of recurrence risk) as the HPV- subgroup. p53 overexpression was associated with a worse prognosis. [less ▲]

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See detailLes cellules souches cancereuses.
Boniver, Jacques ULg; Herfs, Michael ULg

in Bulletin et Mémoires de l'Académie Royale de Médecine de Belgique (2011), 166(3-4), 141-5146

In tumours, a significant fraction of neoplastic cells are engaged in the cell cycle (growth fraction) and are therefore targets for radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, in most disseminated ... [more ▼]

In tumours, a significant fraction of neoplastic cells are engaged in the cell cycle (growth fraction) and are therefore targets for radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, in most disseminated cancers, such treatments cannot lead to complete cure. Many different mechanisms have been described to explain this resistance. The hypothesis of the existence of "cancer stem cells "has been recently proposed. Indeed, the tumour would contain a small subpopulation of cancer cells displaying the phenotypical characteristics of multipotential stem cells. Since such cells display different signalling pathways compared with more differentiated cells, this might explain at least partially the resistance to treatments. Chronic myeloid leukaemia is a good model in favour of cancer stem cells, but the presence of such cells in all types of cancers is still a matter of debate. Several questions emerge: is the multipotential stem cell, the cell of origin of cancer? What is the relevance of the cancer stem cell paradigm for understanding cancer cell biology and to envision new therapeutic, hopefully curative, therapies? The case of chronic myeloid leukaemia is used to discuss these questions. [less ▲]

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See detailImplication of plasmacytoid dendritic cells in the malignant transformation of cervical epithelial metaplasia
Demoulin, Stéphanie ULg; Herfs, Michael ULg; Somja, Joan ULg et al

Poster (2010, September)

The cervical transformation zone is a dynamic area of a few millimeters in which a glandular epithelium has been replaced by a squamous epithelium through a metaplastic process. Interestingly, a ... [more ▼]

The cervical transformation zone is a dynamic area of a few millimeters in which a glandular epithelium has been replaced by a squamous epithelium through a metaplastic process. Interestingly, a substantial majority (87%) of cervical (pre)cancerous lesions develops within this peculiar microenvironment. Our previous studies reported that intrinsic immune features altered in the metaplastic epithelium could contribute to cancer development by preventing efficient antitumor/antiviral immune response. Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) are key effectors in host innate immunity and orchestrate adaptive immune responses. Recently, infiltration by these subtypes of dendritic cells has been shown in different cancers. However their implication in antitumor response is largely debated. The present study was performed to determine the implication of pDC in the cervical “metaplasia-dysplasia-cancer” sequence. We demonstrated that the density of pDC increases in the epithelium of metaplastic and (pre)cancerous cervical tissues as well as in underlying stroma as compared with normal exocervical epithelium. This could be partially explained by the increased expression of chemerin, their chemotactic peptide, observed in those areas. We developed a method to efficiently generate pDC cells exhibiting morphological and immunohistochemical features of blood pDC from a limited number of CD34+ cord blood progenitors. Using these in vitro generated pDC, we demonstrated that medium conditioned by transformed keratinocytes modified the activation status of pDC, by inducing a decreased expression of costimulatory molecules such as CD86 and HLA-DR. Moreover, malignant keratinocytes diminished the ability of pDC to produce IFNα in response to an oligonucleotide containing CpG motifs, a defined microbial stimulus for pDC. These results suggest that pDC could be educated within the metaplastic and/or (pre)cancerous microenvironment to acquire a tolerogenic phenotype that could promote carcinogenesis. In agreement with those results, we observed that both metaplastic areas and (pre)cancerous lesions of the cervix are infiltrated by T regulatory cells. [less ▲]

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See detailRegulation of p63 Isoforms by Snail and Slug Transcription Factors in Human Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
Herfs, Michael ULg; Hubert, Pascale ULg; Suarez-Carmona, Meggy ULg et al

in American Journal of Pathology (2010), 176(4), 1941-1949

TP63 is a p53-related gene that contains two alternative promoters, which give rise to transcripts that encode proteins with (TAp63) or without (DeltaNp63) an amino-transactivating domain. Whereas the ... [more ▼]

TP63 is a p53-related gene that contains two alternative promoters, which give rise to transcripts that encode proteins with (TAp63) or without (DeltaNp63) an amino-transactivating domain. Whereas the expression of p63 is required for proper development of epithelial structures, the role of p63 in tumorigenesis remains unclear. Here, we investigated the role of Snail and Slug transcription factors, known to promote epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions during development and cancer, in the regulation of p63 isoforms in human squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). In the present study, we observed that the expressions of DeltaN and TAp63 isoforms were, respectively, down- and up-regulated by both Snail and Slug. However, the induction of TAp63 was not directly caused by these two transcription factors but resulted from the loss of DeltaNp63, which acts as dominant-negative inhibitor of TAp63. In SCC cell lines and cancer tissues, high expression of Snail and Slug was also significantly associated with altered p63 expression. Finally, we showed that DeltaNp63 silencing reduced cell-cell adhesion and increased the migratory properties of cancer cells. These data suggest that the disruption of p63 expression induced by Snail and Slug plays a crucial role in tumor progression. Therefore, p63 and its regulating factors could constitute novel prognosis markers in patients with SCC and attractive targets for the therapeutic modulation of neoplastic cell invasiveness. [less ▲]

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