Background: Immunity plays an important role in controlling human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and associated lesions. Unlike infections caused by other viruses, natural HPV infection does not always result in a protective antibody response. Therefore, HPV antibodies are also considered markers of cumulative exposure. The aim of this study was to identify determinants of HPV16 seroreactivity at enrollment among women from the Ludwig-McGill cohort, a natural history study of HPV infection and risk of cervical neoplasia.
Methods: HPV16 serology was assessed by ELISA for L1 and L2 capsid antigens, while HPV typing and viral load measurements were performed by PCR-based methods. The associations were analyzed by unconditional logistic regression.
Results: Of 2049 subjects, 425 (20.7%) were strongly seropositive for HPV16. In multivariate analysis, seroreactivity was positively correlated with age, lifetime number of sexual partners, frequency of sex, and HPV16 viral load, and negatively associated with duration of smoking.
Conclusions: HPV16 seroreactivity is determined by factors that reflect viral exposure.