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.