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J Clin Virol. 2005 Aug;33(4):281-6.

Atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance-favour reactive compared to atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance-favour dysplasia: association with cervical intraepithelial lesions and human papillomavirus infection.

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Dipartimento di Igiene e Microbiologia, Università di Palermo, via del Vespro no. 133, 90127 Palermo, Italy.



The current study compared the cervical cytological sub-category "atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance-favour reactive (AFR)", recently recommended to be eliminated by the Bethesda system, to the sub-category "atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance-favour dysplasia (ASC-US)", in terms of prevalence of coexistent squamous intraepithelial lesions of either low-grade (LSIL) or high-grade (HSIL) and rate of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.


One hundred women with AFR and 100 with ASC-US were consecutively included in the study. All patients underwent colposcopy, followed by biopsy when necessary, and were screened for HPV infection by the combined use of Hybrid Capture II (DIGENE) and PCR with MY09/11 primers, the latter followed by direct sequencing of the amplifications products for HPV genotyping.


LSIL were detected in 5.6% of AFR and 18.5% of ASC-US (p=0.00812), HSIL only in 4.3% of ASC-US. HPV infection was diagnosed in 11.2% of AFR and 38.0% of ASC-US (p=0.00003); high-risk HPV types (namely, HPV-16, -18, -31, -66, -67 and -70) were found in 6.7% of AFR and 22.8% of ASC-US (p=0.00239). Evidence of HPV infection in absence of SIL was proven in 7.1% of AFR and in 22.5% of ASC-US (p=0.00622).


The association of AFR with SIL and high-risk HPV infection is low but not inexistent. Thus, to avoid the risk of leaving some high-risk AFR patients untreated or without follow-up, it could be proposed to keep AFR as a cytological category and to triage it by HPV testing, similarly to what has been already recommended for ASC-US.

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