Primary testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) in cervical screening requires triage to differentiate women with transient infection from those with persistent infection who require more intensive management given their risk for cervical (pre)cancer. In this study, the clinical performance of a novel methylation marker FAM19A4 for the triage of high-risk (hr)HPV-positive women was evaluated. Using a training-validation set approach, we analyzed a FAM19A4 quantitative methylation-specific PCR (qMSP). The training set comprised hrHPV-positive cervical scrapes of 43 women with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 or worse (CIN3+) and 135 women with ≤CIN1. The validation set comprised hrHPV-positive cervical scrapes of 52 women with CIN2+, including 33 CIN3+, 19 CIN2, and 166 women with ≤CIN1. The methylation threshold of FAM19A4 qMSP that gave rise to CIN3+ specificity of 70% in the training set was applied in the validation set. This resulted in CIN3+ sensitivity of 75.8% [95% confidence interval (CI), 61.1-90.4] at 67.0% (95% CI, 60.3-73.8) specificity. Next, the validated qMSP was applied to an independent series of hrHPV-positive cervical scrapes of 22 women with cervical cancer, 29 with advanced CIN2/3 [i.e., women with a known preceding hrHPV infection (PHI) lasting ≥5 years as proxy of longer duration of lesion existence], and 19 with early CIN2/3 (i.e., PHI <5 years). All carcinomas (22/22) and advanced CIN2/3 lesions (29/29) were FAM19A4 methylation-positive, compared with 42.1% (8/19; 95% CI, 19.9-64.3) of early CIN2/3 lesions. In conclusion, FAM19A4 is an attractive triage marker for hrHPV-positive women, with a high reassurance for the detection of cervical carcinoma and advanced CIN2/3 lesions.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.