An initiative to assess the quality of Tanzanian cervical cancer specimens for HPV and telomerase detection

Pathol Res Pract. 2021 Feb:218:153344. doi: 10.1016/j.prp.2021.153344. Epub 2021 Jan 18.


The aim of our study was to assess the quality of Tanzanian cervical cancer specimens, evaluating telomerase alterations and human papilloma virus (HPV) infection in relation to histopathological characteristics since these biomarkers are not routinely analyzed. Thirty-two Tanzanian women with invasive cervical cancer were included in the study. Histopathological classification and all the analyses on tissue, including TERT immunohistochemistry, were performed at IRST IRCCS (Meldola, Italy). HPV typization was performed by pyrosequencing. FHACT™ was used to identify chromosomal aberrations. Nonparametric ranking statistics were used. The majority (75 %) of the cases analyzed were squamous carcinoma, while 12.5 % were adenocarcinoma. The presence of HPV infection was confirmed in 26/27 (96.3 %) cases. A high percentage of patients (88 %) were infected with HPV16 of whom 12 (44.4 %) with African type 1, and 4 (14.8 %) with African type 2. TERT expression evaluated in the entire case series showed a median H-score of 130 (range 3-270), with only one negative case. 88 % of the FISH-evaluable samples showed an amplification of the chromosomal region 3q26 (TERC) and/or 5p15, and 20q13, associated with a higher median expression of TERT (P = 0.0226). Despite pre-analytical problems in terms of sample fixation, we showed that the search for biomarkers such as HPV and telomerase is feasible in Tanzanian tissue. These markers could be important risk-stratification tools in this population.

Keywords: Cancer; Cervical cancer; Cervix; HPV; Tanzanian population; Telomerase.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / enzymology
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / virology*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / enzymology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / virology*
  • DNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Human Papillomavirus DNA Tests
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Tanzania
  • Telomerase / analysis*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Viral
  • TERT protein, human
  • Telomerase