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Int J Cancer. 2006 Feb 15;118(4):950-6.

Detection of human papillomavirus type 18 E6 and E7-specific CD4+ T-helper 1 immunity in relation to health versus disease.

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Department of Immunohematology and Blood Transfusion, Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands.


The most common high-risk human papillomavirus types, HPV16 and 18, differ markedly with respect to their interaction with the host. Clearance of HPV18 infections generally takes longer and HPV18-positive cancers have a poorer prognosis. We therefore evaluated Th1-type immunity against the E6 and E7 oncoproteins of HPV18 in healthy subjects and in patients with HPV18-positive genital cancer, and compared the results to our previously obtained data for HPV16. Approximately 20% of the healthy individuals displayed immunity against HPV18 E6. In contrast, none of the patients showed such responses, despite the presence of HPV18-positive lesions. Several of the patients did respond to HPV18 E7, whereas this immunity is rarely found in healthy subjects. This pattern of immune reactivity is essentially similar to that previously found for HPV16. It is unlikely that this similarity is the result of immunological cross-reactivity between the E6 and E7 antigens of HPV types 16 and 18. Our data confirm the relation between failure of E6-specific Th1 immunity and high-risk HPV-induced cervical neoplasia and argue that parameters other than these determine the differences in pathological impact between HPV types 16 and 18.

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