Early integration of high copy HPV16 detectable in women with normal and low grade cervical cytology and histology

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Integration of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA has been considered a late event in cervical carcinogenesis. However, integrated forms of HPV were recently detected in cancer precursor lesions using a new real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to detect the deletions at the 3362–3443 region of HPV16 E2


To study the frequency of HPV16 DNA integration in cervical lesions and compare the sensitivity of an additional upstream region of the E2 ORF (2962–3138) in detecting HPV integration.


Using the TaqMan based PCR, HPV16 positive DNA samples were analysed in 164 cervical scrapings from women participating in a multicentre screening trial. Biopsy confirmation was available in 62 cases.


Primers targeting the 3362–3443 region detected the majority of E2 deletions. In only 23% of the samples was the E2 upstream region equal or better target than the 3362–3443 region. Mixed (episomal/integrated) pattern was the most prevalent physical state of HPV16, also present in PAP smears with normal morphology. Pure integrated form was most prevalent in HSIL and cancer lesions, but also detectable in low grade abnormalities (NSIL, ASC-US, LSIL). Women with only integrated HPV16 were almost 10 years older than those with episomal HPV16. Viral load of integrated HPV16 was related to cytological abnormality (p = 0.003) but not to histology.


Integrated HPV16 is present in low grade cervical lesions, mostly mixed with the episomal form. Women with the pure integrated form of HPV16 are older than those with the other forms.

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