Chapter 12: Prophylactic HPV vaccines: underlying mechanisms

Vaccine. 2006 Aug 31;24 Suppl 3:S3/106-13. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2006.05.110. Epub 2006 Jun 23.


Human papillomavirus virus-like particles (HPV VLP) can be generated by the synthesis and self-assembly in vitro of the major virus capsid protein L1. HPV L1 VLPs are morphologically and antigenically almost identical to native virions, and this technology has been exploited to produce HPV L1 VLP subunit vaccines. The vaccines elicit high titres of anti-L1 VLP antibodies that persist at levels 10 times that of natural infections for at least 48 months. At present the assumption is that the protection achieved by these vaccines against incident HPV infection and HPV-associated ano-genital pathology is mediated via serum neutralising Immunoglobulin G (IgG). However, since there have been very few vaccine failures thus far, immune correlates of protection have not been established. The available evidence is that the immunodominant neutralising antibodies generated by L1 VLPs are type-specific and are not cross-neutralising, although highly homologous HPV pairs share minor cross-neutralisation epitopes. Important issues remaining to be addressed include the duration of protection and genotype replacement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Capsid Proteins / immunology*
  • Cross Reactions
  • Humans
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / immunology*
  • Papillomaviridae / immunology*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / immunology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / immunology*
  • Vaccines, Subunit / immunology
  • Vaccines, Virosome / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Capsid Proteins
  • HPV L1 protein, Human papillomavirus
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Subunit
  • Vaccines, Virosome