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J Pathol. 2000 Dec;192(4):494-501.

Decreased synthesis and expression of TGF-beta1, beta2, and beta3 in epithelium of HPV 16-positive cervical precancer: a study by microdissection, quantitative RT-PCR, and immunocytochemistry.

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Division of Pathology, Queens Medical Centre, University Hospital, Nottingham, UK.


Cervical carcinogenesis is a multistep process initiated by 'high-risk' human papillomaviruses (HR-HPVs), most commonly HPV 16. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) inhibits epithelial proliferation and down-regulates transcription of E6/E7 genes of HPV. Altered TGF-beta expression may be important in carcinogenesis. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to investigate TGF-beta1, beta2, and beta3 mRNA levels in nine specimens of normal cervix and 15 cervical precancers (eight HPV-positive, including five HPV 16-positive). Immunocytochemical expression of TGF-beta1, beta2, and beta3 was examined in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) positive for HPV 16 (26), and in HPV-negative, normal ectocervical epithelium (9); reserve cell hyperplasia (12); and immature (7) and mature (15) squamous metaplasia. The intensity of staining for TGF-beta1 was measured using grey-scale image analysis. Microdissection was used to investigate epithelial and stromal (excluding crypts) levels of TGF-beta1 mRNA in HPV 16-positive cervical precancer. Normal cervix, including reserve cells and immature and mature metaplasia, showed strong immunocytochemical expression of all TGF-beta isoforms. Expression was decreased in the basal third of the epithelium in CIN 1, in the basal and middle thirds in CIN 2, and in all layers in CIN 3. Quantitative analysis of TGF-beta1 expression showed that the changes in CIN compared with normal ectocervix and mature metaplasia were statistically highly significant (p<0.001, ANOVA). TGF-beta1, beta2, and beta3 mRNA levels showed a significant decrease only in the five HPV 16-positive CIN samples when compared with normal (p=0. 0034, 0.0033, and 0.029, respectively). TGF-beta mRNA levels in HPV 16-positive epithelium also decreased from normal through low-grade to high-grade precancer. Stromal TGF-beta1 was absent or very low compared with epithelial production and was not altered in HPV 16 precancer. Progressive loss of epithelial TGF-beta expression and synthesis may be important in HPV 16-associated human cervical carcinogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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