Detection of herpes simplex virus and human papilloma virus in ophthalmic pterygium

Cornea. 2001 Mar;20(2):164-7. doi: 10.1097/00003226-200103000-00010.


Purpose: To evaluate the presence of herpes simplex virus (HSV) and human papilloma virus (HPV) in pterygia and phenotypically normal conjunctiva and the possible relation between viral presence and clinical information.

Methods: Fifty pterygia and respective conjunctival specimens were obtained. A personal and family history was recorded for each patient. HSV and HPV detection and typing were accomplished by polymerase chain reaction amplification of viral sequences. Results were statistically analyzed.

Results: HSV (type 1) was detected in 11 (22%), HPV (type 18) in 12 (24%), and both HSV-1 and HPV-18 in 3 (6%) of pterygia. No conjunctival specimen displayed HSV, whereas HPV was detected in four (8%). Postoperative recurrence and history of conjunctivitis were significantly more common in patients with simultaneous detection of HSV and HPV.

Conclusion: The fact that HSV was not detected in conjunctival specimens implies a more specific correlation with pterygium, as compared with HPV. The detection of potentially oncogenic viruses, such as HSV and HPV, supports the concept that pterygium can be considered a neoplastic condition. The correlation of postoperative recurrence and a history of conjunctivitis with the simultaneous detection of HPV and HSV, implies a possible viral cooperation affecting the clinical profile of pterygium.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Eye Infections, Viral / diagnosis
  • Eye Infections, Viral / virology*
  • Female
  • Herpes Simplex / diagnosis
  • Herpes Simplex / virology*
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pterygium / diagnosis
  • Pterygium / virology*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / diagnosis
  • Tumor Virus Infections / virology*


  • DNA, Viral