Evidence of latent HPV infection in older Danish women with a previous history of cervical dysplasia

Anne Hammer*, Jan Blaakaer, Maurits N.C. de Koning, Torben Steiniche, Else Mejlgaard, Hans Svanholm, Mette T. Roensbo, Katrine Fuglsang, John Doorbar, Rikke H. Andersen, Wim G.V. Quint, Patti E. Gravitt


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Introduction: Understanding whether human papillomavirus (HPV) may establish latency in the uterine cervix is important. A better understanding of HPV natural history is useful for clinical counseling of women attending screening and to accurately inform health prevention strategies such as screening and HPV vaccination. We evaluated the extent of latent HPV infections in older women with a history of abnormal cytology. Material and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study in Aarhus, Denmark, from March 2013 through April 2015. Women were enrolled if they underwent cervical amputation or total hysterectomy because of benign disease. Prior to surgery, women completed a questionnaire and a cervical smear was collected for HPV testing and morphological assessment. For evaluation of latency (i.e., no evidence of active HPV infection, but HPV detected in the tissue), we selected women with a history of abnormal cervical cytology or histology, as these women were considered at increased risk of harboring a latent infection. Cervical tissue underwent extensive HPV testing using the SPF10-DEIA-LipA25 assay. Results: Of 103 women enrolled, 26 were included in this analysis. Median age was 55 years (interquartile range [IQR] 52–65), and most women were postmenopausal and parous. The median number of sexual partners over the lifetime was six (IQR 3–10), and 85% reported no recent new sexual partner. Five women (19.2%) had evidence of active infection at the time of surgery, and 19 underwent latency evaluation. Of these, a latent infection was detected in 11 (57.9%), with HPV16 being the most prevalent type (50%). Nearly 80% (n = 14) of the 18 women with a history of previous low-grade or high-grade cytology with no treatment had an active or latent HPV infection, with latent infections predominating. HPV was detected in two of the six women with a history of high-grade cytology and subsequent excisional treatment, both as latent infections. Conclusions: HPV can be detected in cervical tissue specimens without any evidence of an active HPV infection, indicative of a latent, immunologically controlled infection. Modeling studies should consider including a latent state in their model when estimating the appropriate age to stop screening and when evaluating the impact of HPV vaccination.

TidsskriftActa Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica
Udgave nummer6
Sider (fra-til)608-615
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2022

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
Funding informationThis study was funded by research grants from the Danish Cancer Society, Einar Willumsen's Foundation, Dagmar Marshall's foundation, Aase and Einar Danielsen's foundation, and Sanofi Pasteur, Denmark.


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