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Keywords:

  • HPV;
  • viral load;
  • prognosis;
  • cervical cancer

Abstract

The objective of this study was to investigate variation in human papillomavirus (HPV) type-16 load within histologically defined grades of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. Two hundred and thirty-seven liquid based cytology samples were collected from women attending colposcopy clinics, DNA was extracted, and presence of virus determined by PCR-enzyme immunoassay. Quantitative real-time PCR was used to determine viral load for 70 HPV-16 positive single infections. Viral load was expressed as the ratio of copies of the viral L1 gene to copies of the human beta-globin gene. Measurements varied from 0.019 to 4,194 HPV genomes per cell. Our data demonstrate that in cervical neoplasia, HPV load tends to correlate with disease severity, but that the number of viral genomes/cell varies considerably within histological grades. This variation within disease grades currently limits the clinical utility of viral load measurement.