‘HPV vulvitis’ revisited: frequent and persistent detection of novel epidermodysplasia verruciformis-associated HPV genotypes

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‘Human papillomavirus (HPV) vulvitis’ is a disputed entity where most studies examining for genital-mucosal (GM) HPV have been negative.


Using degenerate and type specific primers for cutaneous (CU), GM and epidermodysplasia verruciformis (EV) HPV types, the prevalence of specific HPV types was investigated in biopsy specimens from 19 women with ‘HPV vulvitis’, seven with asymptomatic vulvar squamous papillomatosis (ASxVSP), and controls of vulvar fibroepithelial polyps (FEP) (15), vulvar condyloma (10) and normal vulva (NV) (10).


HPV DNA/EV HPV/GM HPV/CU HPV were detected in 84/74/47/5% of vulvitis patients, 78/71/0/28% of ASxVSP, 47/20/20/7% of FEP, 10/10%/0/0 of NV and 100/0/100/10% of condyloma. Fourteen putatively novel HPV genotypes were detected in vulvitis and ASxVSP patients, but not in controls. The two most frequent novel EV HPV, Alb-4 and DL285, were detected in 9/19 (47%) and 5/19 (26%) of vulvitis cases and were persistently identified in serial biopsies. HPV co-infection and Alb-4 infection occurred significantly more frequently in vulvitis patients, particularly those complaining of ‘burning’ (62/62% vs. 17/7%, p ≤ 0.004). Koilocytosis was identified significantly more frequently in vulvitis compared with non-condyloma controls (81% vs. 40%, p = 0.0001), and its presence correlated with detection of HPV DNA (r = 0.3, p = 0.002).


The high frequency of novel EV HPV in HPV vulvitis and correlation of clinicopathologic findings with HPV DNA suggests that HPV vulvitis may indeed exist.

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