Detection of Equine Papillomaviruses and Gamma-Herpesviruses in Equine Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Lea Miglinci, Paul Reicher, Barbara Nell, Michelle Koch, Christoph Jindra, Sabine Brandt

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

3 Citations (Scopus)


Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) seriously compromises the health and welfare of affected horses. Although robust evidence points to equine papillomavirus type 2 (EcPV2) causing genital lesions, the etiopathogenesis of equine SCC is still poorly understood. We screened a series of SCCs from the head-and-neck (HN), (peri-)ocular and genital region, and site-matched controls for the presence of EcPV2-5 and herpesvirus DNA using type-specific EcPV PCR, and consensus nested herpesvirus PCR followed by sequencing. EcPV2 DNA was detected in 45.5% of HN lesions, 8.3% of (peri-)ocular SCCs, and 100% of genital tumors, whilst control samples from tumor-free horses except one tested EcPV-negative. Two HNSCCs harbored EcPV5, and an ocular lesion EcPV4 DNA. Herpesvirus DNA was detected in 63.6%, 66.6%, 47.2%, and 14.2% of horses with HN, ocular, penile, and vulvar SCCs, respectively, and mainly identified as equine herpesvirus 2 (EHV2), 5 (EHV5) or asinine herpesvirus 5 (AsHV5) DNA. In the tumor-free control group, 9.6% of oral secretions, 46.6% of ocular swabs, 47% of penile samples, and 14.2% of vaginal swabs scored positive for these herpesvirus types. This work further highlights the role of EcPV2 as an oncovirus and is the first to provide information on the prevalence of (gamma-)herpesviruses in equine SCCs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number179
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


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