HPV - immune response to infection and vaccination

Infect Agent Cancer. 2010 Oct 20;5:19. doi: 10.1186/1750-9378-5-19.


HPV infection in the genital tract is common in young sexually active individuals, the majority of whom clear the infection without overt clinical disease. However most of those who develop benign lesions eventually mount an effective cell mediated immune (CMI) response and the lesions regress.Failure to develop effective CMI to clear or control infection results in persistent infection and, in the case of the oncogenic HPVs, an increased probability of progression to CIN3 and invasive carcinoma. The prolonged duration of infection associated with HPV seems to be associated with effective evasion of innate immunity thus delaying the activation of adaptive immunity.Natural infections in animals show that neutralising antibody to the virus coat protein L1 is protective suggesting that this would be an effective prophylactic vaccine strategy. The current prophylactic HPV VLP vaccines are delivered i.m. circumventing the intra-epithelial immune evasion strategies. These vaccines generate high levels of antibody and both serological and B cell memory as evidenced by persistence of antibody and robust recall responses. However there is no immune correlate - no antibody level that correlates with protection. Recent data on how HPV infects basal epithelial cells and how antibody can prevent this provides a mechanistic explanation for the effectiveness of HPV VLP vaccines.