Introduction: The localization and distribution of single or multiple HPV genotypes in the uterine cervix has not been studied thus far. The present study was undertaken to determine whether single or multiple HPV genotypes detected in cervical smears originate from a single (dysplastic) area, or from different areas (dysplastic or normal) of the uterine cervix.
Methods: Of eight patients with moderate or severe dysplasia, 31 colposcopically guided biopsies of different dysplastic lesions of the uterine cervix, as well as of normal epithelium were investigated. A highly sensitive, broad spectrum, short fragment polymerase chain reaction (SPF-10 PCR) HPV detection method in combination with a line probe assay (LiPA) for simultaneous genotyping was used.
Results: In the uterine cervix of four of the eight patients, multiple HPV genotypes were detected. These multiple HPV genotypes were detected in different biopsies as well as within a single biopsy. In three patients, all with carcinoma in situ or microinvasive carcinoma, only a single HPV genotype, HPV 16, was found all over the cervix including in the normal epithelium.
Conclusion: Different HPV genotypes can be detected in different dysplastic lesions as well as within single lesions, especially in patients with severe dysplasia. The severity of the lesion may possibly have a relation with the distribution of the HPV genotypes. The low number of patients and biopsies does not allow definite conclusions. However, the impact of these findings on the outcome of screening and vaccination programs remains to be elucidated.