Both mucosal and cutaneous papillomaviruses are in the oral cavity but only alpha genus seems to be associated with cancer

Francesca Paolini, Consuelo Rizzo, Isabella Sperduti, Barbara Pichi, Barbara Mafera, Siavash S. Rahimi, Maurizio G. Vigili, Aldo Venuti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Human papillomaviruses are associated with invasive cancers in the cervical, anogenital, and oropharyngeal areas. Persistent HPV infections, particularly with high-risk HPV such as HPV 16, are involved in the carcinogenesis of a subset of oropharyngeal cancers. The majority of published studies on HPV prevalence in these tumors concentrated on identifying high-risk mucosal types. Objectives: To determine the HPV type specific prevalence in different samples collected from the oral cavity of three groups of patients: (A) healthy (n= 25); (B) non-malignant lesions (n= 47); and (C) cancers (n= 78). Study design: To evaluate the prevalence of HPV genotypes in the oral cavity, samples were analyzed by PCR with: MY09/MY11 followed by GP5+/GP6+, CP65/CP70 followed by CP66/CP69, and FAP59/FAP64 primers. The presence of viral transcripts was ascertained by RT-PCR with specific primers for the E7 region. Results: Mucosal HPV types were associated with the presence of cancers. This trend was statistically significant if the analysis was performed for HPV 16 (p= 0.04), which is the most prevalent type detected in oropharyngeal cancers. Conversely, cutaneous HPVs were associated with non-malignant lesions (p= 0.007). The multiple correspondence analysis confirmed these data. Viral transcripts of only mucosal HPVs were detected in non-malignant lesions and cancers. Conclusions: Different types of HPVs infect the oral epithelium, but only the mucosal types, particularly HPV 16, are clearly associated with tumors. The discovery that cutaneous HPVs are associated with potential malignant oral disorders brings other data to understand the significance of their presence in the oral cavity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-76
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Cutaneous-β-γ-HPVs
  • Head/neck cancer
  • Mucosal-α-HPV
  • Oral cavity
  • Pre-neoplastic lesions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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