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J Invest Dermatol. 1998 May;110(5):752-5.

Human papillomaviruses are commonly found in normal skin of immunocompetent hosts.

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  • 1Division for Tumorvirus Characterization, Applied Tumorvirology, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Heidelberg, Germany.


We have previously demonstrated, by the combined application of two degenerate polymerase chain reaction primer sets, the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA in 91% of cutaneous squamous cell cancers from renal allograft recipients, with multiple types being present in one-third of these tumors. Five HPV types--HPV 20, HPV 23, HPV 38, DL40, and DL267--accounted for 73% of positive results. These HPV types are all related to the epidermodysplasia verruciformis group, and HPV 38 was originally isolated from a melanoma. The aims of this study were to determine: (i) whether HPV DNA could readily be demonstrated in skin tumors, as well as in perilesional skin, of immunocompetent patients using two polymerase chain reaction primer sets; (ii) the prevalence of infections in normal skin; and (iii) the prevalence of HPV 38 or HPV 38 related viruses in melanoma. The HPV types detected in lesions from renal allograft recipient were present not only in the perilesional skin and tumors of immunocompetent patients, but also in 35% of normal skin biopsies. HPV DNA was present in 13% of the melanoma samples, but none harbored HPV 38 DNA. We identified four putatively new HPV types. Infections with different types of human papillomavirus are widespread and often occur in clinically normal skin. In vitro studies are required to determine the specific molecular mechanisms by which these HPV types may be involved in the etiology of nonmelanoma skin cancer.

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