Type-specific Human Papillomavirus Biological Features: Validated Model-Based Estimates

PLoS One. 2013 Nov 29;8(11):e81171. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081171. eCollection 2013.

Abstract

Infection with high-risk (hr) human papillomavirus (HPV) is considered the necessary cause of cervical cancer. Vaccination against HPV16 and 18 types, which are responsible of about 75% of cervical cancer worldwide, is expected to have a major global impact on cervical cancer occurrence. Valid estimates of the parameters that regulate the natural history of hrHPV infections are crucial to draw reliable projections of the impact of vaccination. We devised a mathematical model to estimate the probability of infection transmission, the rate of clearance, and the patterns of immune response following the clearance of infection of 13 hrHPV types. To test the validity of our estimates, we fitted the same transmission model to two large independent datasets from Italy and Sweden and assessed finding consistency. The two populations, both unvaccinated, differed substantially by sexual behaviour, age distribution, and study setting (screening for cervical cancer or Chlamydia trachomatis infection). Estimated transmission probability of hrHPV types (80% for HPV16, 73%-82% for HPV18, and above 50% for most other types); clearance rates decreasing as a function of time since infection; and partial protection against re-infection with the same hrHPV type (approximately 20% for HPV16 and 50% for the other types) were similar in the two countries. The model could accurately predict the HPV16 prevalence observed in Italy among women who were not infected three years before. In conclusion, our models inform on biological parameters that cannot at the moment be measured directly from any empirical data but are essential to forecast the impact of HPV vaccination programmes.

MeSH terms

  • Human papillomavirus 16 / pathogenicity
  • Human papillomavirus 18 / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / transmission
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology*

Grant support

This work was supported by the European Community’s Seventh Framework programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement No. 242061 (acronym PREHDICT) and by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (grant number OPP1053353). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.