Objective: To examine the critical point at which telomerase activation occurs in the course of cervical carcinogenesis.
Methods: Telomeric repeat assay protocol was used to measure telomerase activity in cell samples obtained from 155 Japanese women with various cervical conditions: normal cytology (n = 62), cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) (n = 63), and invasive squamous cell carcinoma (n = 30).
Results: Telomerase activity was detected in five (8%) women with normal cytology, in 26 (41%) patients with CIN (26% of patients with CIN I, 35% with CIN II, and 68% with CIN III), and in 29 (97%) patients with invasive carcinoma. Telomerase activation was significantly more frequent in CIN than in normal cervices (P < .001), and the positive rate in CIN III was significantly higher than that in CIN I (P < .01) and CIN II (P < .05). Furthermore, telomerase activation was significantly more frequent in invasive carcinoma than in CIN III (P < .01).
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that telomerase activation is a relatively early event in cervical carcinogenesis and correlates well with grade of cervical lesion.