The antigen-presenting environment in normal and human papillomavirus (HPV)-related premalignant cervical epithelium

Clin Exp Immunol. 1999 Apr;116(1):33-40. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2249.1999.00826.x.


The activation of HPV-specific T cells within the cervical microenvironment is likely to play an important part in the natural history of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). The extent and the type of T cell activation will depend critically on the expression of MHC, costimulatory cell surface molecules and cytokines by keratinocytes and Langerhans cells within the cervical lesion. Expression of MHC class II (HLA-A-DR and -DQ), costimulatory/adhesion molecules (CD11a/18, CD50, CD54, CD58 and CD86) and cytokines (tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and IL-10) was therefore investigated by immunohistochemistry in normal squamous epithelium (n = 12), low-grade (n = 23) and high-grade (n = 18) squamous intraepithelial lesions of the cervix. CIN progression was associated with de novo expression of HLA-DR and CD54, and increased expression of CD58 by keratinocytes. However, significantly, there was no expression of any adhesion/costimulation molecule by epithelial Langerhans cells in any cervical biopsy studied. Furthermore, TNF-alpha, a potent activator of Langerhans cells, was expressed constitutively by basal keratinocytes in normal cervix (12+/12). but expression of this cytokine was absent in a number of CIN samples (20+/23 for low-grade, 12+/18 for high-grade CIN). Conversely, the suppressive cytokine IL-10 was absent in normal epithelium (0+/12), but was up-regulated in a number of CIN lesions (12+/23 for low-grade; 8+/18 for high-grade CIN). The restricted expression of costimulation/adhesion molecules and the nature of the cytokine microenvironment within the epithelium may act to limit effective immune responses in some CIN lesions.

MeSH terms

  • Antigen Presentation*
  • Antigens, CD
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / complications
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / etiology
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / immunology*
  • Female
  • HLA-D Antigens
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10
  • Keratinocytes / immunology
  • Langerhans Cells / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Papillomaviridae / immunology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications
  • Papillomavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Precancerous Conditions / complications
  • Precancerous Conditions / etiology
  • Precancerous Conditions / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Tumor Virus Infections / complications
  • Tumor Virus Infections / immunology*


  • Antigens, CD
  • HLA-D Antigens
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interleukin-10