Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection plays a crucial role in cervical carcinogenesis. Apart from the detection of p16 protein in cervical tissues, the feasibility of the presence of HPV DNA in peripheral blood being an auxiliary marker of cervical lesions was examined. Methods: Peripheral blood samples and cervical tissues, from 36 cervical tissues from high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) and 31 early invasive cervical cancers (EICC), were analyzed for HPV 16/18 DNA and HPV 16/18 E7 mRNA expression, as well as the in situ expressions of p16 and pRb to investigate the in-between associations. Results: The prevalence of HPV 16/18 DNA in patients with EICC was relatively higher than those of HSIL, in both of cervical tissues and peripheral blood. The presence of HPV 16/18 DNA in peripheral blood was positively correlated with that in cervical tissue, as well as with p16 overexpression in cervical tissues together with a significant correlation between E7 mRNA and pRb and p16 protein expressions. Discussion: A positive correlation between the presence of HPV 16 or 18 DNA in peripheral blood and p16 overexpression in tissues of patients with cervical lesions was confirmed. Together with p16 immunostaining in cervical tissues, the detection of high-risk HPV 16 or 18 DNA in peripheral blood may act as an auxiliary biomarker for HPV-associated neoplastic cervical lesions.
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