Recent advances in treating female genital human papillomavirus related neoplasms with topical imiquimod

J Med Virol. 2023 Nov;95(11):e29238. doi: 10.1002/jmv.29238.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) encompasses a group of viruses that infect the skin and mucous membranes. In the presence of certain factors, persistent infection with high-risk HPVs can trigger a process of neoplastic transformation. Imiquimod is a topical agent that acts as a Toll-like receptor 7/8 agonist, stimulating the innate and adaptive immune system to exert antitumor and antiviral effects. It has been approved for the treatment of various skin conditions, however, its efficacy and safety in the management of HPV-related-neoplasms of the lower genital tract, such as vulvar, vaginal, and cervical neoplasia, are still under investigation. This review summarizes the current evidence on the use of imiquimod for the treatment of HPV-induced lesions of the female lower genital tract, focusing on its indications, mechanisms of action, outcomes, and predictors of response.

Keywords: cervical cancer; cervical intraepithelial neoplasia; human papillomavirus; imiquimod; vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia; vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Human Papillomavirus Viruses
  • Humans
  • Imiquimod
  • Papillomaviridae
  • Papillomavirus Infections* / drug therapy
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms*
  • Vagina
  • Vulvar Neoplasms* / drug therapy


  • Imiquimod
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic