Presence of Human Papillomavirus DNA in Tonsillectomy Specimens

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The objectives of this prospective case–control study were to study the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) in tonsillectomy specimens from pediatric patients without recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP), and to study methods of HPV detection.


Fifty pediatric patients without known RRP undergoing tonsillectomy for hypertrophy or recurrent tonsillitis were enrolled in the study. After tonsillectomy, a 20-mg section was subjected to DNA extraction, and DNA content and purity were confirmed with spectrophotometry. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed using consensus primer pools PGMY 09/11 targeted at the L1 region. Amplification products were detected and analyzed with standard agarose gel electrophoresis. Positive samples were then subjected to reverse line blot assay to determine virus genotype. Laryngeal papilloma specimens of 15 patients obtained during routine debulking procedures were also analyzed and served as positive controls.


Of 50 tonsil samples tested, two were positive for HPV DNA after PCR and gel electrophoresis. One of these samples was confirmed with typing and tested positive for HPV 11. All 15 papilloma specimens were positive for DNA of HPV types 6 and/or 11.


In the current study, the prevalence of HPV DNA in tonsillar tissue of patients without RRP is 2%, whereas the incidence of this disease is 2 to 4 cases per 100,000 (0.004%). These findings are significantly different (P = .005 within a 95% confidence interval) suggesting that host factors in addition to infection play a role in pathogenesis of RRP. The molecular methods described in this study are well suited for detection of HPV in tonsillar tissue.

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