Genital warts and cervical cancer III. Subclinical papillomaviral infection and cervical neoplasia are linked by a spectrum of continuous morphologic and biologic change

Richard Reid, Christopher P. Crum, Barry R. Herschman, Yao Shi Fu, Lundy Braun, Keerti V. Shah, Samuel J. Agronow, C. Robert Stanhope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Human papillomaviral (HPV) infection is now widely advanced as an important etiologic factor in cervical cancer. This study was undertaken to clarify morphologic relationships within the biologic spectrum linking subclinical papillomaviral infection (SPI) to cervical intraepithelial (CIN). Two pathologists analyzed 72 colposcopic biopsies, using a semi‐objective rating scheme that scored 24 different histologic criteria. Each individual criterion was checked for reproducibility, and validated against an objective measure of papillomaviral infection (immunoperoxidase staining) or premalignant change (microspec‐trophotometry). The individual criteria were then combined into histologic indices of benign warty change, presumed viral atypia, abnormal cell phenotype, and disturbed tissue maturation. Histologic expression of papillomaviral infection decreased with increasing degrees of premalignant change. Plotting the index of abnormal cell phenotype against that of disturbed tissue maturation produced a linear plot in which cases clustered into four diagnostic groups. The histologic indices of papillomaviral infection displayed significant curvilinear correlations with genotypic distortion, benign warty change being maximal in the CIN 1 range and presumed viral atypia in the CIN 2 range. Disturbance of nuclear DNA content also increased with worsening diagnosis; diploidy being most common in SPI (67%), polyploidy in CIN 1 (59%), and aneuploidy in CIN 2 (65%) and CIN 3 (82%). Conversely, capsid antigen production decreased from 36% in SPI to 9% in CIN 3. Three aneuploid epithelia were immunoperoxidase positive. These inverse relationships between late viral expression and nuclear distortion fit experimental models of viral oncogenesis. The gradual transition and morphologic overlap between diagnostic groups support the postulate that SPI and CIN are a single disease spectrum, in which differences are those of degree rather than of kind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)943-953
Number of pages11
JournalCancer
Volume53
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 15 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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