Perinatal infection and persistence of human papillomavirus types 16 and 18 in infants

J Med Virol. 1995 Nov;47(3):209-18. doi: 10.1002/jmv.1890470305.


Perinatal transmission of genital human papillomaviruses (HPVs), including HPV-16 and -18 which are associated with anogenital carcinomas have been described previously [Pakarian et al. (1994): British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 101:514-517; Kaye et al. (1994) Journal of Medical Virology 44:415-421]. A study was undertaken to investigate whether HPV-16 and -18 DNA in infants contaminated at delivery persists until they are 6 months of age. Of 61 pregnant women recruited, 42 (68.8%) were HPV-16 and 13 (21.3%) were HPV-18 DNA positive. At 24 hr there were transmission rates from HPV DNA positive mothers to their infants of about 73% (HPV-16: 69%; HPV-18: 76.9%). Ten mothers who were both HPV-16 and -18 DNA positive produced six (60%) infants who were also doubly positive at 24 hr. HPV DNA persisted to 6 weeks in 79.5% (HPV-16: 84%; HPV-18: 75%) of those infants who were positive at birth. At 6 months of age, persistent HPV-16 DNA was detected in 83.3% of cases, but HPV-18 DNA persistence at this time was 20%. To extend these observations over a greater age range of children HPV-16 L1 and L2 proteins were expressed in insect cells via recombinant baculoviruses and sera from 229 children were examined to determine at what age IgM antibodies to HPV were acquired. There was a bimodal distribution of IgM seropositivity which peaked between 2 and 5 and 13 and 16 years of age, suggesting that two distinct modes of transmission may occur. The observation that infection with high cancer risk genital HPVs may occur in early life and persist is of considerable importance for HPV vaccine strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Antigens, Viral / genetics
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology
  • Capsid / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Female
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical
  • Male
  • Papillomaviridae* / isolation & purification
  • Papillomavirus Infections / blood
  • Papillomavirus Infections / transmission
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / immunology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / blood
  • Tumor Virus Infections / transmission
  • Tumor Virus Infections / virology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antigens, Viral
  • DNA, Viral
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins