Purpose: Response rates to treatment of vulval intraepithelial neoplasia (VIN) with imiquimod and cidofovir are approximately 57% and 61%, respectively. Treatment is associated with significant side effects and, if ineffective, risk of malignant progression. Treatment response is not predicted by clinical factors. Identification of a biomarker that could predict response is an attractive prospect. This work investigated HPV DNA methylation as a potential predictive biomarker in this setting.Experimental Design: DNA from 167 cases of VIN 3 from the RT3 VIN clinical trial was assessed. HPV-positive cases were identified using Greiner PapilloCheck and HPV 16 type-specific PCR. HPV DNA methylation status was assessed in three viral regions: E2, L1/L2, and the promoter, using pyrosequencing.Results: Methylation of the HPV E2 region was associated with response to treatment. For cidofovir (n = 30), median E2 methylation was significantly higher in patients who responded (P ≤ 0.0001); E2 methylation >4% predicted response with 88.2% sensitivity and 84.6% specificity. For imiquimod (n = 33), median E2 methylation was lower in patients who responded to treatment (P = 0.03; not significant after Bonferroni correction); E2 methylation <4% predicted response with 70.6% sensitivity and 62.5% specificity.Conclusions: These data indicate that cidofovir and imiquimod may be effective in two biologically defined groups. HPV E2 DNA methylation demonstrated potential as a predictive biomarker for the treatment of VIN with cidofovir and may warrant investigation in a biomarker-guided clinical trial. Clin Cancer Res; 23(18); 5460-8. ©2017 AACR.
©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.