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Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2008 Apr;57(4):443-51. Epub 2007 Dec 22.

Acquired immune response to oncogenic human papillomavirus associated with prophylactic cervical cancer vaccines.

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Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women's Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, 1695 Eastchester Rd., Suite 601, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common infection among women and a necessary cause of cervical cancer. Oncogenic HPV types infecting the anogenital tract have the potential to induce natural immunity, but at present we do not clearly understand the natural history of infection in humans and the mechanisms by which the virus can evade the host immune response. Natural acquired immune responses against HPV may be involved in the clearance of infection, but persistent infection with oncogenic virus types leads to the development of precancerous lesions and cancer. B cell responses are important for viral neutralization, but antibody responses in patients with cervical cancer are poor. Prophylactic vaccines targeting oncogenic virus types associated with cervical cancer have the potential to prevent up to 80% of cervical cancers by targeting HPV types 16 and 18. Clinical data show that prophylactic vaccines are effective in inducing antibody responses and in preventing persistent infection with HPV, as well as the subsequent development of high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia. This article reviews the known data regarding natural immune responses to HPV and those developed by prophylactic vaccination.

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