Human papillomavirus detection in matched oral rinses, oropharyngeal and oral brushings of cancer-free high-risk individuals

Maria Gabriella Donà, Barbara Pichi, Francesca Rollo, Maria Benevolo, Alessandra Latini, Valentina Laquintana, Raul Pellini, Manuela Colafigli, Mirko Frasca, Massimo Giuliani, Antonio Cristaudo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: The detection of oral Human Papillomavirus (HPV) may be of clinical utility because of the major role HPV plays in the etiology of oropharyngeal cancer. However, oral HPV testing is not standardized and the best sampling method has yet to be identified. We aimed to compare HPV findings in matched oral rinse-and-gargles (rinses), oropharyngeal brushings and oral brushings. Materials and methods: HPV-DNA was investigated using Linear Array in samples collected from cancer-free individuals at increased risk for oral HPV. Results: 163 oral rinses already tested for HPV were selected. The matched oropharyngeal (n = 163) and oral brushings (n = 100) were analyzed. The detection rate for any HPV, high-risk (HR)-HPVs and HPV16 was significantly higher in rinses than brushings. The overall agreement for any HPV between rinses and oropharyngeal brushings was 51.2% (Cohen K: 0.14, 95% CI: 0.07–0.21). The proportion of positive agreement was 16.8 The overall agreement for HR-HPVs was 74.1% (Cohen K: 0.20, 95% CI: 0.07–0.33). The genotype-specific profile of rinses and brushings which were concomitantly HPV-positive only partially overlapped in cases with multiple infections, with more genotypes detected in the rinse, which were not isolated in the corresponding brushings. Conclusion: The agreement for HPV status between rinses and brushings is poor, particularly for the HPV-positive findings. Despite the fact that the origin of the HPV-infected cells present in the oral rinse is unclear, since they could not be traced back to the oropharynx or oral cavity, oral rinses provided the highest detection rate for HR-HPVs and HPV16.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalOral Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Brushing
  • Head and neck cancer
  • HPV
  • Human papillomavirus
  • MSM
  • Oral cavity
  • Oral infection
  • Oral rinse
  • Oropharyngeal neoplasm
  • Oropharynx


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