Feasibility of collecting self-sampled vaginal swabs by mail: quantity and quality of genomic DNA

  • M. F. D. BaayEmail author
  • V. Verhoeven
  • H. A. J. Lambrechts
  • G. G. O. Pattyn
  • F. Lardon
  • P. Van Royen
  • J. B. Vermorken


Vaginal self-sampling may be valuable as an alternative method of cervical cancer screening in areas of poor resources, to enrol women who, otherwise, would not participate in population-based cervical cancer screening and in epidemiological follow-up studies. We assessed the reliability of mailed vaginal samples by evaluating the quantity and quality of genomic DNA in the samples. Mailed swabs (n = 201) were compared with freshly collected samples (n = 200) for DNA concentration (45.1 versus 50.9 ng/µl, respectively) and purity (mean optical density [OD] 260/280 ratio 1.88 versus 1.78, respectively). A small, non-significant, decrease in DNA yield with longer transport time was noted. The DNA yield of mailed samples was significantly lower compared to fresh samples (P < 0.002), but this lower yield had little effect on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification. In conclusion, the large majority of mailed self-sampled vaginal swabs resulted in DNA of adequate purity and concentration for further research.


Polymerase Chain Reaction Amplification Cervical Cancer Screening Vaginal Sample Prepaid Return Envelope Longe Transport Time 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Human papillomavirus


Optical density



This study was financially supported by a research grant to MFDB from the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders (FWO), a research grant to VV from the Special Research Fund of the University of Antwerp and by an unrestricted research grant from Sanofi Pasteur to MFDB. The authors are grateful to all of the students who participated in this study, to Ms. Chris Ploegaert for her help with student enrolment, to Mr. and Mrs. P. van Poppel for the generous gift of a −20°C freezer for the storage of samples and to the Department of Medical Genetics for access to the NanoDrop ND-1000 spectrophotometer.

Conflict of interest statement

MFDB received research funding from Sanofi Pasteur.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. F. D. Baay
    • 1
    Email author
  • V. Verhoeven
    • 2
  • H. A. J. Lambrechts
    • 1
  • G. G. O. Pattyn
    • 1
  • F. Lardon
    • 1
  • P. Van Royen
    • 2
  • J. B. Vermorken
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory for Cancer Research and Clinical OncologyUniversity of Antwerp (CDE, T3)WilrijkBelgium
  2. 2.Centre for General PracticeUniversity of AntwerpWilrijkBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Medical OncologyAntwerp University HospitalEdegemBelgium

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