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Integrated Human Papillomavirus Type 16 Is Frequently Found in Cervical Cancer Precursors as Demonstrated by a Novel Quantitative Real-Time PCR Technique

  • Panu Peitsaro
  • Bo Johansson
  • Stina Syrjänen
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Mar 01, 2002
  • Medicine


In contrast to cervical cancer, integration of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA into the host genome has been considered a rare event in cancer precursor lesions (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia [CIN]). With our new real-time PCR method, we demonstrated that integrated HPV type 16 (HPV16) is already present in CIN lesions. The physical state of HPV16 and the viral load were simultaneously detected. A unique region of the E2 open reading frame (ORF) that is most often deleted during HPV16 integration is targeted by one set of PCR primers and a probe, and another set targets the E6 ORF. In episomal form, both targets should be equivalent, while in integrated form, the copy numbers of E2 would be less than those of E6. The method was tested with DNAs from 31 cervical lesions (non-CIN to CINIII) from 24 women prospectively followed up for 10 years. This report presents viral load and integration results from the largest series of CIN lesions described to date. Only one sample contained exclusively episomal HPV16 DNA, and this lesion regressed spontaneously. Samples from another patient, with only integrated HPV16, rapidly progressed from CINI to CINIII in 2 years. In all other patients, episomal and integrated forms of HPV16 DNA were found to coexist. Rapid progression of the CIN lesions was closely associated with a heavy load of integrated HPV16. Thus, the method described here is a very sensitive tool with which to assess the physical state of HPV, which is useful in predicting disease progression.

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