Human papilloma virus and lupus: the virus, the vaccine and the disease

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a well known, widespread autoimmune disease, involving multiple organ systems, with a multifaceted, widely unmapped etiopathogenesis. Recently, a new aspect of morbidity has been described among SLE patients: infection with human papilloma virus (HPV). We set out to review data regarding the intricate relationship between the two and attempt to determine whether HPV may pose as a contributing factor to the development of SLE.

Recent findings

We relate to epidemiological, molecular and clinical data. We have found evidence in all these fields suggesting HPV to be involved in the pathogenesis of SLE: increased prevalence of HPV infection among SLE patients; vast molecular homology between viral peptides and human proteins associated with SLE; several reports of SLE development post-HPV vaccination. Our findings suggest a possible involvement of HPV infection in the induction of SLE, via a mechanism of immune cross-reaction due to molecular homology.

Summary

We review clinical, epidemiological and molecular data suggesting involvement of HPV infection in the pathogenesis of SLE. We suggest that these findings may justify the development of new HPV vaccines containing viral peptides that bear no homology to the human proteome, in order to avoid possible adverse immune cross-reactivity.

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