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Human Papillomavirus Types 16 and 18 mRNA Levels and Not DNA Levels May be Associated With Advancing Stages of Cervical Cancer
  1. Manu Gnanamony, MSc*,
  2. Abraham Peedicayil, MD, MPh,
  3. John Subhashini, MD, MAMS,
  4. Thomas Samuel Ram, MD,
  5. Solomon Christopher, MSc§,
  6. Patti Gravitt, PhD, MS and
  7. Priya Abraham, MD, PhD*
  1. *Departments of Clinical Virology,
  2. Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology,
  3. Departments of Radiation Oncology, and
  4. §Departments of Biostatistics, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India; and
  5. Departments of Department of Epidemiology, John Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Priya Abraham, MD, PhD, Department of Clinical Virology, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India, 632004. E-mail: priyaabraham{at}


Objective: Human papillomavirus (HPV) contributes to the development of cervical cancer. We hypothesize that HPV DNA and messenger RNA (mRNA) levels may be associated with increasing stages of cervical cancer.

Materials and Methods: In this study, we measured DNA and mRNA viral loads of the most common high-risk HPV-16 and HPV-18 in cervical biopsy tissue of women with cervical neoplasia using real-time polymerase chain reaction.

Results: Median HPV-16 and HPV-18 DNA viral loads were 58,342 copies and 71,367 per 5000 cells, respectively. We found that HPV-16 and HPV-18 DNA levels did not correlate with advancing tumor stage (P = 0.977 and P = 0.263). Messenger RNA transcripts were detected in 81 (86%) of HPV-16 DNA-positive women and in 16 (84.2%) of HPV-18-positive women. Median HPV-16 and HPV-18 transcript copy numbers were 5964 and 6158, respectively. In women with squamous cell carcinoma, HPV-16 mRNA loads showed an increasing but not statistically significant trend with advancing disease stage (ρ = 0.231, P = 0.058).

Conclusions: We conclude that HPV mRNA levels and not DNA levels may be associated with advancing stages of cervical cancer.

  • Human papillomavirus
  • DNA quantitation
  • E6/E7 mRNA transcript levels
  • Real-time PCR

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  • The study was funded by the Department of Biotechnology, India (reference No. BT/PR5249/Med/14/613/2004). We thank Janet Kornegay and Sean Boyle for line blot assay from Roche Molecular Systems, California.