Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide. Infection with certain human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes is the most important risk factor associated with cervical cancer. This study analysed the distribution of type-specific HPV infection among women with normal and abnormal cytology, to assess the potential benefit of prophylaxis with anti-HPV vaccines.
Cervical samples of 2,461 women (median age 34 years; range 15-75) from the centre of Spain were tested for HPV DNA. These included 1,656 samples with normal cytology (NC), 336 with atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS), 387 low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LSILs), and 82 high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSILs). HPV detection and genotyping were performed by PCR using 5'-biotinylated MY09/11 consensus primers, and reverse dot blot hybridisation.
HPV infection was detected in 1,062 women (43.2%). Out of these, 334 (31%) samples had normal cytology and 728 (69%) showed some cytological abnormality: 284 (27%) ASCUS, 365 (34%) LSILs, and 79 (8%) HSILs. The most common genotype found was HPV 16 (28%) with the following distribution: 21% in NC samples, 31% in ASCUS, 26% in LSILs, and 51% in HSILs. HPV 53 was the second most frequent (16%): 16% in NC, 16% in ASCUS, 19% in LSILs, and 5% in HSILs. The third genotype was HPV 31 (12%): 10% in NC, 11% in ASCUS, 14% in LSILs, and 11% in HSILs. Co-infections were found in 366 samples (34%). In 25%, 36%, 45% and 20% of samples with NC, ASCUS, LSIL and HSIL, respectively, more than one genotype was found.
HPV 16 was the most frequent genotype in our area, followed by HPV 53 and 31, with a low prevalence of HPV 18 even in HSILs. The frequency of genotypes 16, 52 and 58 increased significantly from ASCUS to HSILs. Although a vaccine against HPV 16 and 18 could theoretically prevent approximately 50% of HSILs, genotypes not covered by the vaccine are frequent in our population. Knowledge of the epidemiological distribution is necessary to predict the effect of vaccines on incidence of infection and evaluate cross-protection from current vaccines against infection with other types.