Objectives: To address a question whether immune responses to HPV infection play a role in control of cervical cancer, we analyzed systemic and mucosal immune responses to HPV in women who underwent radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer (HCC) or loop conization due to cervical dysplasia (LOOP), or had hysterectomy for other reasons (HNN).
Methods: HPV-specific antibodies in sera and vaginal washes were determined by ELISA using recombinant HPV 16 E7 oncoprotein. Cytokines in vaginal washes were assayed by Linco cytokine multiplex method using Luminex technology. Differential gene expression profiling in cervical tumor was determined by microarray analysis and Real-time RT-PCR.
Results: While levels of HPV-16 E7-specific IgG in vaginal wash were significantly higher in women undergoing HCC and HNN, the levels of the HPV-16 E7-specific IgA in vaginal wash of women with cervical cancer and cervical dysplasia were lower as compared to patients in HNN. Proinflammatory cytokines, such as IL-6 and IL-8, were dominant in vaginal washes of all subjects studied. However, no pattern of Th1-type and Th2-type cytokine induction was observed as demonstrated by protein analysis as well as differential gene expression profiling in cervical tumor.
Conclusions: These results suggest a selective down-regulation of local HPV-specific IgA responses in women with cervical cancer.