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Antiviral Res. 2004 Dec;64(3):179-88.

A novel model of HPV infection in meshed human foreskin grafts.

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  • 1Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., Research and Development, 2100 rue Cunard, Laval, QuĂ©., H7S 2G5, Canada.


The present study describes a novel meshing procedure that provided successful low-risk papillomavirus propagation and reproducible wart induction in human foreskin xenografts. The initial HPV6 and/or 11 inocula were collected from clinically excised human wart tissues and confirmed to be free of HPV16, 18 and 31 by PCR analysis. Human foreskin grafts were collected from a circumcision clinic, and pre-inoculated with HPV virions by scarification. Meshing was carried out with a Zimmer Skin Grafter Mesher. Grafts were cut to appropriate size (1cm x 1cm or 5mm x 5mm) for cutaneous or subcutaneous grafting to NIH-nu-bg-xid mice under halothane anesthesia. Cutaneous xenografts were dressed with antibiotics and protective band-aids for 3 weeks. In the paralleled experiment using the same viral stock containing both HPV6 and 11, and matched grafts, no visible papillomas were observed in non-meshed cutaneous xenografts (n = 4 up to 6 months). In comparison, six of eight cutaneous xenografts treated with the meshing procedure formed visible papillomas within 4 months. This high frequency of distinct papilloma induction over the surface of meshed xenografts were reproduced in subsequent experiments with viral stocks containing both HPV11 and 6 (8 out of 10 grafts), or with a single-type HPV11 inoculum (80-100%). In contrast, an initial viral stock of single-type HPV6 provided lower frequency and more delayed papilloma induction. Serial passage of HPV6 in the meshed xenograft appeared to improve both the induction frequency and growth rate up to the 3rd generation. Histology, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemical analysis revealed similarity of xenograft warts to those observed in the clinic. The highly reproducible papilloma induction rate and successful viral stock propagation associated with the meshing procedure provide a novel feature in the HPV xenograft model.

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