Authors: Swan DC, Tucker RA, Tortolero-Luna G, Mitchell MF, Wideroff L, Unger ER, Nisenbaum RA, Reeves WC, Icenogle JP
Title: Human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA copy number is dependent on grade of cervical disease and HPV type.
Journal: J Clin Microbiol 37(4):1030-4
Date: 1999 Apr
Abstract: The association between human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA copy number and cervical disease was investigated. Viral DNA copy number for the most common high-risk HPV types in cervical cancer (types 16, 18, 31, and 45) was determined in cervical cytobrush specimens from 149 women with high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasias (CIN II-CIN III), 176 with low-grade CIN (CIN I), and 270 with normal cytology. Quantitative, PCR-based fluorescent assays for each of the HPV genotypes and for the beta-globin gene were used. The amount of cellular DNA increased significantly with increasing disease; thus, HPV was expressed as copies per microgram of cellular DNA. The assay had a dynamic range of >10(7), allowing documentation for the first time of the wide range of HPV copy numbers seen in clinical specimens. Median HPV DNA copy number varied by more than 10(4) among the viral types. HPV16 was present in the highest copy number; over 55% of HPV16-positive samples contained more than 10(8) copies/microgram. Median copy number for HPV16 showed dramatic increases with increasing epithelial abnormality, an effect not seen with the other HPV types. HPV16 increased from a median of 2.2 x 10(7) in patients with normal cytology, to 4.1 x 10(7) in CIN I patients, to 1.3 x 10(9) copies/microgram in CIN II-III patients. Even when stratified by cervical disease and viral type, the range of viral DNA copies per microgram of cellular DNA was quite large, precluding setting a clinically significant cutoff value for "high" copy numbers predictive of disease. This study suggests that the clinical usefulness of HPV quantitation requires reassessment and is assay dependent.