The etiology of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the head and neck (HNSCC) is multifactorial; however, oral cavity SCC (OSCC) is closely related to tobacco and alcohol consumption, while oropharyngeal SCC (OPSCC) shows a frequent association with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, as well as better prognosis than OSCC. The immune microenvironment in the HNSCC shows an immunosuppressive profile. Among these immune cells, tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) appear to play a key role in tumorigenesis and are classified as M1 (with pro-inflammatory and anti-tumor functions) and M2 (with anti-inflammatory, pro-angiogenic and pro-tumoral properties). Several studies have shown that TAMs exhibit an M2 phenotype in OSCC and OPSCC. However, it is not known whether the profile of TAMs is influenced by the presence or absence of HPV in these tumors. Given the above, the objective of the current study will be to analyze, by immunohistochemistry, macrophages M1 (CD68+/CD163-) and M2 (CD68+/CD163+) in the OSCC (n=20; 10 HPV+ and 10 HPV-) and OPSCC (n=20, 10 HPV+ and 10 HPV-). Our results aim to contribute to the elucidation of the pathogenesis of OSCC and OPSCC, and to determine whether differences in the infiltration of subpopulations of TAMs, in correlation with viral oncogenesis (HPV), may explain the biological behavior of these tumors.
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