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J Clin Virol. 2008 Dec;43(4):353-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2008.09.009. Epub 2008 Nov 4.

Betapapillomaviruses: innocent bystanders or causes of skin cancer.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are found in almost all squamous epithelia where they can cause hyperproliferative disease of mucosa and skin. Mucosal HPV types, such as HPV6 and HPV16, are known to cause anogenital warts and dysplasia or neoplasia, respectively. These HPV types have been studied extensively, and for some of them recently preventive vaccines have become available. Although HPV that populate the skin were the first identified HPV types, knowledge of the pathogenicity of HPV in the cornified epithelia stayed behind. What the majority of cutaneous HPV types do, for instance those belonging to the beta genus (betaPV), is largely unknown. As the number of reports that describe epidemiological associations between markers of betaPV infection and skin cancer gradually increases, the need for basic knowledge about these viruses grows as well. This review aims to picture what is currently known about betaPV with respect to infection, transmission and transformation, in order to envisage their potential role in cutaneous carcinogenesis.

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