• high-risk HPV-genotypes;
  • viral load;
  • E6/E7 mRNA;
  • cervical cytological samples


High-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV) genotype viral load and E6/E7 mRNA detection are proposed as surrogate markers of malignant cervical lesion progression. Currently, the use of commercially available DNA-based or mRNA-based tests is under investigation. In this study, the viral DNA load and E6/E7 mRNA detection of the five most common HR-HPV types detected in cervical cancer worldwide were compared in 308 cervical samples by using in-house type-specific quantitative real-time PCR assays and PreTect HPV-Proofer test, respectively. Sensitivity and negative predictive values were higher for the HPV-DNA assays combined (95.0% and 96.0%, respectively) than the RNA assays (77.0% and 88.0%, respectively); conversely, the mRNA test showed a higher specificity and higher positive predictive value (81.7% and 66.9%, respectively) than the DNA test (58.6% and 52.5%, respectively) for detecting histology-confirmed high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. A significantly higher association between viral DNA load and severity of disease was observed for HPV 16 and 31 (γ = 0.62 and γ = 0.40, respectively) than for the other HPV types screened. A good degree of association between the two assays was found for detection of HPV 16 (k = 0.83), HPV 18 (k = 0.72), HPV 33 (k = 0.66), and HPV 45 (k = 0.60) but not for HPV 31 (k = 0.24). Sequence analysis in L1 and E6-LCR regions of HPV 31 genotypes showed a high level of intra-type variation. HR-HPV viral DNA load was significantly higher in E6/E7 mRNA positive than negative samples (P < 0.001), except for HPV 31. These findings suggest that transcriptional and replicative activities can coexist within the same sample. J. Med. Virol. 85:472–482, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.