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Gynecol Oncol. 2013 Sep;130(3):642-51. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2013.05.033. Epub 2013 Jun 5.

HPV vaccine cross-protection: Highlights on additional clinical benefit.

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Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, L.go A. Gemelli 8, 00168, Rome, Italy.


Prophylactic human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are administered in vaccination programs, targeted at young adolescent girls before sexual exposure, and in catch-up programs for young women in some countries. All the data indicate that HPV-virus-like particles (VLPs) effectively prevent papillomavirus infections with a high level of antibodies and safety. Since non-vaccine HPV types are responsible for about 30% of cervical cancers, cross-protection would potentially enhance primary cervical cancer prevention efforts. High levels of specific neutralizing antibodies can be generated after immunization with HPV VLPs. Immunity to HPV is type-specific. However, if we consider the phylogenetic tree including the different HPV types, we realize that a certain degree of cross-protection is possible, due to the high homology of some viral types with vaccine ones. The assessment of cross-protective properties of HPV vaccines is an extremely important matter, which has also increased public health implications and could add further value to their preventive potential. The impact of cross-protection is mostly represented by a reduction of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia CIN2-3 more than what expected. In this article we review the mechanisms and the effectiveness of Bivalent (HPV-16/-18) and Quadrivalent (HPV-6/-11/-16/-18) HPV vaccine cross-protection, focusing on the critical aspects and the potential biases in clinical trials, in order to understand how cross-protection could impact on clinical outcomes and on the new perspectives in post-vaccine era.


Bivalent vaccine; Cross-protection; Human papillomavirus; Quadrivalent vaccine

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