The number of copies of carcinogenic HPV18 relative to cellular DNA is not associated with the likelihood of progression to advanced precancerous lesions of the cervix, according to researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle.
The team used data from 303 survey participants drawn from the Atypical Squamous Cells of Undetermined Significance and Low-Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesion Triage Study. The team was looking at HPV18, because that form as well as HPV16 are most frequently associated with cervical cancer. Additionally previous studies showed that the number of HPV16 copies per cell correlated with an increased risk of progression to cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2 or 3 (CIN2-3).
The team compared the number of copies of HPV18 DNA relative to cellular DNA at baseline with a woman’s risk of progressing to CIN2-3. During the two-year study period, 92 women were diagnosed with CIN2-3. Among women with a cytologic diagnosis of low- or high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions at enrollment, HPV18 DNA level was lower in women with CIN2-3 than those without CIN2-3.
“In summary, our data indicated that HPV18 DNA levels were highest among women with evidence of a benign squamous intraepithelial lesion, intermediate among those with CIN2-3, and lowest among those with normal cytological findings. Thus, testing for high levels of HPV18 DNA does not appear to be clinically useful,” note the authors of the study, led by Long Fu Xi, M.D, Ph.D.
The article appears in the January 27 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.