Sohrab Bodaghi,1 Lauren V. Wood,1 Gregg Roby,1 Celia Ryder,1 Seth M. Steinberg,2 and Zhi-Ming Zheng1*
HIV and AIDS Malignancy Branch,1 Biostatistics and Data Management Section, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland2
The human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are epitheliotropic viruses that require the environment of a differentiating squamous epithelium for their life cycle. HPV infection through abrasion of the skin or sexual intercourse causes benign warts and sometimes cancer. HPV DNA detected in the blood has been interpreted as having originated from metastasized cancer cells. The present study examined HPV DNA in banked, frozen peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 57 U.S. human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected pediatric patients collected between 1987 and 1996 and in fresh PBMCs from 19 healthy blood donors collected in 2002 to 2003. Eight patients and three blood donors were positive mostly for two subgroups of the HPV type 16 genome. The HPV genome detected in all 11 PBMC samples existed as an episomal form, albeit at a low DNA copy number. Among the eight patients, seven acquired HIV from transfusion (three associated with hemophilia) and one acquired HIV through vertical transmission; this patient also had received a transfusion before sampling. Our data suggest that PBMCs may be HPV carriers and might spread the virus through blood.