Oral infection by mucosal and cutaneous human papillomaviruses in men who have sex with men from the ohmar study

Tarik Gheit, Francesca Rollo, Rosario N. Brancaccio, Alexis Robitaille, Luisa Galati, Massimo Giuliani, Alessandra Latini, Barbara Pichi, Maria Benevolo, Cyrille Cuenin, Sandrine McKay-Chopin, Raul Pellini, Antonio Cristaudo, Aldo Morrone, Massimo Tommasino, Maria Gabriella Donà

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Both mucosal and cutaneous Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs) can be detected in the oral cavity, but investigations regarding the epidemiology of cutaneous HPVs at this site are scarce. We assessed mucosal (alpha) and cutaneous (beta and gamma) HPV infection in oral samples of HIV-infected and uninfected men who have sex with men (MSM). Oral rinse-and-gargles were collected from 310 MSM. Alpha HPVs were detected using the Linear Array, whereas beta and gamma HPVs were detected using multiplex PCR and Luminex technology. An amplicon-based next-generation sequencing (NGS) protocol was applied to a subset of samples collected from 30 HIV-uninfected and 30 HIV-infected MSM. Beta HPVs were significantly more common than alpha types (53.8% vs. 23.9% for HIV-infected subjects, p < 0.0001; 50.3% vs. 17.1% for HIV-uninfected subjects, p < 0.0001). Gamma HPVs were also frequently detected (30.8% and 25.9% in HIV-infected and uninfected MSM, respectively). NGS produced 2,620,725 reads representative of 146 known HPVs (16 alpha-PVs, 53 beta-PVs, 76 gamma-PVs, one unclassified) and eight putative new HPVs, taxonomically assigned to the beta genus. The oral cavity contains a wide spectrum of HPVs, with beta types representing the predominant genus. The prevalence of beta and gamma HPVs is high even in immunorestored HIV-infected individuals. NGS confirmed the abundance of cutaneous HPVs and identified some putative novel beta HPVs. This study confirms that cutaneous HPVs are frequently present at mucosal sites and highlights that their pathological role deserves further investigation since it may not be limited to skin lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberv12080899
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Alpha
  • Beta
  • Cutaneous
  • Gamma
  • HIV
  • HPV
  • Human Papillomavirus
  • Men who have sex with men
  • MSM
  • Mucosal
  • Next generation sequencing
  • NGS
  • Oral rinse and gargle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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