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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Apr 2;93(7):2930-5.

Chronic estrogen-induced cervical and vaginal squamous carcinogenesis in human papillomavirus type 16 transgenic mice.

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  • 1The Hormone Research Institute, San Francisco, CA 94143-0790, USA.


High-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs), including type 16, have been identified as factors in cervical carcinogenesis. However, the presence and expression of the virus per se appear to be insufficient for carcinogenesis. Rather, cofactors most likely are necessary in addition to viral gene expression to initiate neoplasia. One candidate cofactor is prolonged exposure to sex hormones. To examine the possible effects of estrogen on HPV-associated neoplasia, we treated transgenic mice expressing the oncogenes of HPV16 under control of the human keratin-14 promoter (K14-HPV16 transgenic mice) and nontransgenic control mice with slow release pellets of 17beta-estradiol. Squamous carcinomas developed in a multistage pathway exclusively in the vagina and cervix of K14-HPV16 transgenic mice. Estrogen-induced carcinogenesis was accompanied by an incremental increase in the incidence and distribution of proliferating cells solely within the cervical and vaginal squamous epithelium of K14-HPV16 mice. Expression of the HPV transgenes in untreated transgenic mice was detectable only during estrus; estrogen treatment resulted in transgene expression that was persistent but not further upregulated, remaining at low levels at all stages of carcinogenesis. The data demonstrate a novel mechanism of synergistic cooperation between chronic estrogen exposure and the oncogenes of HPV16 that coordinates squamous carcinogenesis in the female reproductive tract of K14-HPV16 transgenic mice.

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