• p16INK4a;
  • Hybrid Capture 2;
  • human papillomavirus;
  • cervical dysplasia;
  • cervical carcinoma;
  • immunolocalization;
  • cytology;
  • ThinPrep® Papanicolaou test;
  • liquid-based cytology;
  • molecular diagnostics



Evidence suggests that overexpression of p16INK4a protein indicates infection and genomic integration of high-risk human papillomavirus (HR HPV) and predicts progression to cervical high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSILs) and carcinoma. The authors compared the ability of p16INK4a and HR HPV detection by Hybrid Capture 2 (HC2) to detect the presence of significant cervical disease.


Four hundred ThinPrep® specimens (100 each in 4 categories: 100 specimens that were negative for intraepithelial lesions, 100 specimens of atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance [ASC-US], 100 specimens of low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions [LSILs], and 100 specimens of HSILs) were analyzed. p16INK4a protein was immunolocalized using a specific monoclonal antibody, and the detection of HR HPV in all 400 specimens was determined using HC2.


p16INK4a was found to be positive in 78% of HSIL specimens, 42% of LSIL specimens, and 36% of ASC-US specimens; whereas HC2 was positive in 92% of HSIL specimens, 81% of LSIL specimens, and 45% of ASC-US specimens. In the HSIL category, the sensitivity, which was calculated using Grade 2 or greater cervical intraepithelial neoplasia as the endpoint, was 78% (50 of 66 specimens) for p16INK4a and 91% (60 of 66 specimens) for HC2. For LSIL, the sensitivity was 75% (3 of 4 specimens) for p16INK4a and 100% (4 of 4 specimens) for HC2. In the ASC-US category, the sensitivity was 89% (8 of 9 specimens) for p16INK4a and 100% (9 of 9 specimens) for HC2. Overall, the sensitivity for HSIL was 92% for HC2 and 78% for p16INK4a. The specificity for HC2 was 8.3% for HSIL, 16.9% for LSIL, and 48.7% for ASC-US; whereas the specificity for p16INK4a was 25% in HSIL, 59.1% in LSIL, and 68.4% in ASC-US. The overall specificity was 25% for HC2 and 56% for p16INK4a.


Although both p16INK4a and HC2 may aid in the clinical management of patients with clinically significant lesions, HC2 was found to have greater sensitivity, and p16INK4a greater specificity. The labeling of normal cells and bacteria may preclude the use of p16INK4a in automated screening or nonmorphologic assays. Cancer (Cancer Cytopathol) 2006. © 2006 American Cancer Society.