Identification of human cytomegalovirus in tumour tissues of colorectal cancer and its association with the outcome of non-elderly patients

Hsin Pai Chen, Jeng Kai Jiang, Cheng Yu Chen, Chih Yung Yang, Yen Chung Chen, Chi Hung Lin, Teh Ying Chou, Wen Long Cho, Yu Jiun Chan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Increasing evidence suggests that human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) plays an oncomodulatory role in human cancers. In colorectal cancer (CRC), presence of HCMV in tumours has been associated with a poor outcome in elderly patients. This study aimed to investigate the association between HCMV and the outcome of non-elderly patients with CRC. In tumour samples, HCMV DNA was detected by PCR. Viral transcript and protein were detected by in situ hybridization (ISH) and immunohistochemical staining (IHC), respectively. Clinical, pathological and survival data were compared between patients with HCMV-positive and -negative tumours. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) was used to analyse the expression levels of cellular signals related to CRC progression and metastasis. Among 89 CRC non-elderly patients aged <65 years, HCMV was detected in 31 (34.8 %) tumour samples by PCR. By ISH and IHC, viral transcript and protein specifically localized to the cytoplasm of neoplastic mucosal epithelium. Outcome analysis revealed a more favourable disease-free survival (DFS) rate in patients with HCMV-positive tumours (P<0.01), specifically in patients with stage III disease. In a multivariate Cox proportional-hazard model, tumoural presence of HCMV independently predicted a higher DFS rate (hazard ratio 0.22; 95% confidence interval 0.075-0.66, P<0.01). By qRT-PCR, the tumoural levels of interleukin-1 were relatively lower in samples positive for HCMV. The results suggest that HCMV may influence the outcome of CRC in an age-dependent manner and possibly has a dual oncomodulatory effect. How the virus interacts with the tumour microenvironment should be further studied.

Original languageEnglish
Article number000558
Pages (from-to)2411-2420
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of General Virology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2016


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Human cytomegalovirus
  • Non-elderly
  • Oncomodulation
  • Survival

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