It has been suggested that local invasive procedures may alter the natural course of (pre)malignant cervical disease. This could be due to partial excision of the lesions, or via induction of cellular immunity against human papillomavirus (HPV) by the local invasive procedures. We studied the influence of local invasive procedures on HPV-16 E7 specific immune responses in patients with different grades of cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) and different stages of cervical cancer. Blood was obtained at intake and after invasive procedures from patients with CIN or cervical cancer. Antigen specific T-cell responses were measured by IFN-gamma ELISPOT analysis, after stimulation with recombinant HPV-16 E7 protein. As expected, HPV-16 E7 specific IFN-gamma T cell responses were more frequent in HPV-16 DNA positive patients compared with that in HPV-16 DNA negative patients (39/50 vs. 16/36, (p=0.006, chi2 test). After invasive procedures, a small number of HPV-16 DNA positive CIN patients, but a considerable proportion of HPV-16 DNA positive cervical cancer patients, showed an enhancement of T cell responses against HPV-16 E7. Induction of T cell reactivity was most pronounced in cervical cancer patients who had undergone previous invasive procedures. Both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells showed E7 specific IFN-gamma production upon in-vitro stimulation. Our study shows that invasive procedures may enhance HPV-specific cell-mediated immunity in a considerable number of patients with cervical cancer, but in only a minority of CIN patients. Our data indicate that invasive procedures should be considered as possible confounding factors when analyzing the effectiveness of therapeutic immunization studies, especially, when induction of HPV-specific immune responses is used as intermediate end-point.
Copyright (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.