Aptima HR-HPV testing from Diff-Quick-stained fine-needle aspiration smears of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma

Min Han, Cory T. Bernadt, Benjamin Murray, Steven M. Johnson, Jalal B. Jalaly, Telly Garcia, Laura J. Adhikari

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4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Human papillomavirus (HPV)-related oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a biologically unique form of carcinoma that is important to identify for prognosis and treatment. The objective of this study was to evaluate the performance of the Aptima HPV assay using Diff-Quick (DQ) stained smears from fine-needle aspiration (FNA) of HPV-related oropharyngeal SCC. Materials and methods: Patients with a diagnosis of head and neck SCC who also had FNA sample demonstrating metastatic disease were identified. Using a mounting media-based cell transfer technique, approximately 200 tumor cells were selected and harvested from DQ-stained aspirate smeared slides. The selected cells were tested for high risk HPV using the Aptima HPV assay, an in vitro nucleic acid amplification test for the qualitative detection of E6/E7 viral messenger RNA from high-risk types of HPV. These results were compared with the p16 immunohistochemical staining of the corresponding surgical pathology specimens. Results: Twenty-eight of 32 (87.5%) FNAs of p16-positive oropharyngeal SCC were positive for high-risk HPV by the Aptima assay and 18 of 18 (100%) FNAs of p16-negative SCC were negative for high-risk HPV by the Aptima assay. Conclusions: DQ-stained FNA smears can be used by the Aptima HPV assay to accurately detect high-risk HPVs in oropharyngeal SCCs with a sensitivity of 87.5% and a specificity of 100%. This provides an alternative to p16 immunohistochemical staining of FNA cell block material, which may not be available on all specimens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-226
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Society of Cytopathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Aptima
  • Diff-Quick smear
  • Fine needle aspiration
  • HPV
  • Oropharyngeal
  • Squamous cell carcinoma


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