Follow-up of human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA and local anti-HPV antibodies in cytologically normal pregnant women Received: 17 July 1996
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The high level of progesterone during pregnancy may enhance the transcription and replication of genital human papillomaviruses (HPV) through the glucocorticoid/progesterone response element found in the long control region of the viral genome. In this study, cytologically and colposcopically healthy pregnant women were subjected to a follow-up examination. Samples from the uterine cervix were collected during early pregnancy (n = 39), in the third trimester (n = 31), and a few weeks after birth (n = 30). The presence of HPV DNA was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), while local secretory anti-viral IgA antibodies were demonstrated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using synthetic peptide antigens. Follow-up examination by PCR revealed HPV DNA persistence in 5 women. In 5 other cases, HPV positivity changed from negative to positive during the follow-up. There was 1 case which changed from positive to negative and 1 in which the HPV type changed during the study. Altogether, 12 of 39 women (31%) were shown to harbor HPV DNA at some time during follow-up. HPV DNA positivity increased from 18% during early pregnancy to 27% after birth (difference not significant). On the other hand, there was a significant rise in the level of local antibodies against HPV antigens (E 2, E 7, and L 2) between samples collected in early pregnancy and those collected after birth (P<0.0001). This may indicate the reactivation of genital HPV infections during late pregnancy.
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