Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, Observatory, Cape Town, South Africa.
Persistent infection of the uterine cervix with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV) is causally associated with cancer of the cervix. A few studies have reported the presence of HPV DNA in the blood of women with cervical neoplasia. The aim of this study was to determine if HPV DNA could be detected in whole blood of women with a range of cervical pathologies and with HPV 16 or 18 cervical infections and if there is a correlation between cervical lesion grade and the appearance of HPV DNA in the circulatory system. Forty-five women with histologically graded cervical cancer were confirmed to have cervical HPV 16 or 18 infections. Eleven (24.4%) of these women had detectable HPV 16 or 18 in their blood. The HPV types detected in the blood matched those detected at the cervix. No HPV 16 or 18 DNA was detected in the blood of 32 women with pre-cursor cervical lesions or normal cervical pathology but who had cervical HPV 16 or 18 infections. One of 77 women with normal cervical pathology and no cervical HPV infection was positive for HPV 16 DNA in her blood. The results indicate that HPV DNA can be detected in the blood of women with more advanced cervical carcinomas but not in the blood of women with pre-cursor cervical lesions. The results of our study indicate that the role of HPV DNA in the circulatory system appears not be of diagnostic significance and HPV DNA is only detectable in women with more advanced cervical cancers.
2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.