Detection of human papillomavirus DNA in plucked hairs from renal transplant recipients and healthy volunteers

J Invest Dermatol. 1997 May;108(5):712-5. doi: 10.1111/1523-1747.ep12292090.


We have previously detected a group of human papillomaviruses originally found in skin lesions of epidermodysplasia verruciformis (EV) patients in skin cancers from renal transplant recipients and from non-immunosuppressed patients. The reservoir of EV-HPVs is still unknown. In the current study we investigated whether EV-HPV DNA can be detected in plucked hairs from renal transplant recipients and healthy volunteers. Hairs were plucked from eyebrows, scalp, arms, and/or legs and DNA was subsequently isolated. To detect EV-HPV, we used nested PCR with degenerate primers located in the HPV L1 open reading frame. HPV DNA was detected in hairs from one or more sites in all 26 renal transplant recipients tested. Forty-five of 49 samples (92%) from these 26 patients were positive. The HPV type was successfully determined by sequencing in 38 samples, and all types belonged to the EV-HPVs. In ten of 22 healthy volunteers (45%), EV-HPV DNA was also detected in hairs from one or more sites. Twenty of 38 samples (53%) were positive, of which 17 samples were typed as EV-HPV types. These findings indicate that EV-HPV is subclinically present in the skin of the general population. Immunosuppression may lead to activation of the virus, explaining the finding that the apparent prevalence of EV-HPV in plucked hairs from renal transplant patients is higher than in those from the volunteers. If a dose-response situation exists for the carcinogenic potential of HPV infection, this finding may be relevant to the increased risk of skin cancer in this group of patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arm
  • DNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis / virology
  • Eyebrows
  • Hair / chemistry
  • Hair / virology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / pathology*
  • Leg
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Scalp / chemistry
  • Scalp / virology


  • DNA, Viral

Associated data

  • GENBANK/X13294