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Vet Pathol. 2013 Jul;50(4):686-92. doi: 10.1177/0300985812463403. Epub 2012 Oct 11.

EcPV2 DNA in equine papillomas and in situ and invasive squamous cell carcinomas supports papillomavirus etiology.

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Dermatology Department, Clinic for Small Animal Internal Medicine, Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.


Equine penile papillomas, in situ carcinomas, and invasive carcinomas are hypothesized to belong to a continuum of papillomavirus-induced diseases. The former ones clinically present as small grey papules, while the latter 2 lesions are more hyperplasic or alternatively ulcerated. To test the hypothesis that these lesions are papillomavirus-induced, samples of 24 horses with characteristic clinical and histologic findings of penile papillomas or in situ or invasive squamous cell carcinomas were collected. As controls, 11 horses with various lesions--namely, Balanoposthitis (6 cases), melanoma (3 cases), follicular cyst (1 case), and amyloidosis (1 case)--were included. DNA was extracted and polymerase chain reaction applied to amplify papillomavirus DNA. The respective primers were designed to amplify DNA of the recently discovered equine papillomavirus EcPV2. All tested papilloma and squamous cell carcinoma samples were found to contain DNA of either of 2 previously published EcPV2 variants. Among the other samples 6 of 11 were found to contain EcPV2 DNA. To further support the findings and to determine where the papillomavirus DNA was located within the lesions, an in situ hybridization for the detection of EcPV2 DNA was established. The samples tested by this technique were found to clearly contain papillomavirus nucleic acid concentrated in the nucleus of the koilocytes. The findings of this study support previous data and the hypothesis that papillomaviruses induce the described penile lesions in horses.


horse; in situ hybridization; in situ squamous cell carcinoma; invasive squamous cell carcinoma; papilloma; papillomavirus; penis

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