ARTICLE ABSTRACTPurpose: Deregulation of miRNAs is associated with almost all human malignancies. Human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated oropharyngeal carcinoma (OPC) has a significantly more favorable outcome compared with HPV-negative OPCs; however, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood. Hence, the objectives of this study were to determine whether miRNA expression differed as a function of HPV status and to assess whether such miRNAs provide prognostic value beyond HPV status.Methods: Global miRNA profilings were conducted on 88 formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) OPC biopsies (p16-positive: 56; p16-negative: 32), wherein the expression levels of 365 miRNAs plus 3 endogenous controls were simultaneously measured using quantitative real-time (qRT)-PCR. Seven FFPE specimens of histologically normal tonsils were used as controls.Results: Overall, 224 miRNAs were expressed in more than 80% of the investigated samples, with 128 (57%) being significantly differentially expressed between tumor versus normal tissues (P < 0.05). Upregulated miR-20b, miR-9, and miR-9* were significantly associated with HPV/p16-status. Three miRNA sets were significantly associated with overall survival (miR-107, miR-151, miR-492; P = 0.0002), disease-free survival (miR-20b, miR-107, miR-151, miR-182, miR-361; P = 0.0001), and distant metastasis (miR-151, miR-152, miR-324-5p, miR-361, miR492; P = 0.0087), which retained significance even after adjusting for p16 status. The associated biologic functions of these miRNAs include immune surveillance, treatment resistance, invasion, and metastasis.Conclusion: We have identified several miRNAs, which associate with HPV status in OPC; furthermore, three candidate prognostic sets of miRNAs seem to correlate with clinical outcome, independent of p16 status. Furthermore, evaluations will offer biologic insights into the mechanisms underlying the differences between HPV-positive versus HPV-negative OPC. Clin Cancer Res; 19(8); 2154–62. ©2013 AACR.