BACKGROUND: Persistent infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 causes the majority of cervical cancers. Genital HPV infection is very common, but neoplastic progression is uncommon. There is an urgent need to identify biomarkers associated with cervical neoplasia that can be used to triage women who test positive for HPV.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the ability of quantitative measurement of HPV16 DNA methylation to separate samples of different cytology grades and cervical cancers, and determine which of the assessed regions of the HPV genome and individual CpGs are most informative.
STUDY DESIGN: DNA methylation was quantified by pyrosequencing of bisulphite converted DNA from liquid based cytology samples from 17 women with normal cytology and 20 women with severe dyskaryosis, and from fixed tissue from 24 women with cervical cancer. Methylation was assessed in the HPV Long Control Region (LCR), E2 and L1/L2 regions.
RESULTS: In cervical cancers, increased HPV DNA methylation was present in all regions. Increased methylation was also observed in severely dyskaryotic relative to normal samples, but only in the E2 and L1/L2 regions. The ability of methylation based classifiers to separate the three classes of material was assessed by ROC curve analyses. The best separation between normal and dyskaryotic samples was achieved by assessment of the L1/L2 CpGs at nucleotide positions 5600 and 5609 (AUC=0.900, 95% CI: 0.793-1).
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the potential of quantification of HPV DNA methylation as a biomarker of cervical neoplasia. An algorithm considering methylation at specific L1/L2 CpGs appeared the most promising model.
- Capsid Proteins/genetics
- DNA Methylation
- DNA, Viral/metabolism
- Middle Aged
- Oncogene Proteins, Viral/genetics
- Papillomavirus Infections/complications
- Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/pathology