Detection of high-risk human papillomavirus in the tonsils of galilee region adults and young adults undergoing tonsillectomy

  • Reut Aviv Mordechai
  • Shay Steinberg
  • Liat Apel-Sarid
  • Ety Shaoul
  • Simona Zisman Rozen
  • Lubna Khoury
  • Ohad RonenEmail author
Head and Neck



The presence of high-risk HPV in non-malignant tonsil tissues from patients who underwent tonsillectomy in the Galilee area might explain the low incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal malignancy in the country. The aim of this retrospective study was to study the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) in non-malignant tonsillectomy specimens of adults in the Galilee area.

Materials and methods

We conducted a retrospective analysis of all tonsil samples in our medical center. Tonsils from patients over 20 years of age who underwent tonsillectomy for the indication of recurrent tonsillitis and sleep apneas were eligible. Samples of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tonsillar tissue were tested for the presence of HPV DNA using polymerase chain reaction and by p16 immunohistochemistry.


Of the 71 tonsil samples, age range 20–65, none were positive for HPV DNA. Fifty-two FFPE specimens of tonsil with HPV-positive cancer tested positive by the same method served as positive controls.


HPV DNA is rare in non-malignant tonsil tissues of young adults and adults who underwent tonsillectomy in the Galilee area. Further research should be done in larger cohorts.


Human papillomavirus Tonsillectomy Prevalence 



Human papillomavirus


Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded


Squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck


Oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma


Polymerase chain reaction



We wish to thank Mrs. Orly Yakir was responsible for the statistical analysis. We wish to thank Migal-cbr for the proof-read.



Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Reut Aviv Mordechai, Shay Steinberg, Liat Apel-Sarid, Ety Shaoul, Simona Rozen, Lubna Khoury, and Ohad Ronen declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval and informed consent

The study was approved by the institutional review board prior to its commencement (Registration number: NHR010714). Written consent was waived by the institutional review board.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Head and Neck Surgery Unit, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck SurgeryGalilee Medical CenterNahariyaIsrael
  2. 2.Department of PathologyGalilee Medical CenterNahariyaIsrael
  3. 3.Department of HematologyGalilee Medical CenterNahariyaIsrael
  4. 4.Azrieli Faculty of MedicineBar-Ilan UniversitySafedIsrael

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