The p16INK4a is a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor that decelerates the cell cycle by inactivating the cyclin-dependent kinases involved in the phosphorylation of the retinoblastoma protein (RB). Expression of E6 and E7 oncogenes of high-risk (HR) human papillomavirus (HPV), affecting the RB-p16 pathway, leads to p16 upregulation. Although it is widely reported that p16 is overexpressed in a high percentage of preneoplastic lesions and in almost all carcinomas of the uterine cervix, protein upregulation and its correlation with HPV infection in low-grade lesions is still being debated. In this study, we investigated in parallel, p16 expression and HPV infection in 100 cervical biopsies (17 normal tissues, 54 CIN1, 10 CIN2, 11 CIN3, eight invasive squamous cancers). Results obtained demonstrated that none of the 17 normal cervical tissues, evaluated by immunohistochemistry, presented p16 positivity whereas, starting from CIN1 (31%) to CIN2 (90%), CIN3 (100%) and carcinomas (100%), a constant and significant increase of protein overexpression (P <0.0001) was observed. In addition, pi 6 overexpression consistently showed elevated sensitivity (84%) and specificity (98%) in detecting HR-HPV infection with a high positive predictive value (97%) and negative predictive value (86%). Of interest, 93% of the p16-positive CIN1 were also HR-HPV infected. Our findings confirmed that p16 overexpression is associated to high-grade precancerous lesions and cervical carcinomas, and further demonstrated that immunohistochemical evaluation of p16 may be a useful biomarker in identifying HR-HPV-infected low-grade lesions.
- Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia
- Human papillomavirus
- Progression risk
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine