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Human Papillomavirus (HPV) genotype 18 variants in patients with clinical manifestations of HPV related infections in Bilbao, Spain

Sara L Arroyo1, Miren Basaras1*, Elixabete Arrese1, Silvia Hernáez2, Daniel Andía3, Valentín Esteban2, Koldo Garcia-Etxebarria4, Begoña M Jugo4 and Ramón Cisterna12

Author Affiliations

1 Immunology, Microbiology and Parasitology Department, University of Basque Country, Leioa, 48940, Spain

2 Clinical Microbiology and Infection Control Department, Basurto University Hospital, Bilbao, 48013, Spain

3 Obstetrics and Gynecology Department, Basurto University Hospital, Bilbao, 48013, Spain

4 Genetics, Physical Anthropology and Animal Physiology Department, University of Basque Country, Leioa, 48940, Spain

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:258  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-258

Published: 2 November 2012



Human papillomavirus (HPV) variants differ in their biological and chemical properties, and therefore, may present differences in pathogenicity. Most authors classified variants based on the phylogenetic analysis of L1 region. Nevertheless, recombination in HPV samples is becoming a usual finding and thus, characterizing genetic variability in other regions should be essential.


We aimed to characterize the genetic variability of HPV 18 in 5 genomic regions: E6, E7, E4, L1 and the Upstream Regulatory Region (URR), working with both single infection and multiple HPV infection samples. Furthermore, we aimed to assess the prevalence of HPV 18 variants in our region and look for possible existence of recombination as well as analyze the relationship between these variants and the type of lesion.


From 2007 to 2010, Clinical Microbiology and Infection Control Department analyzed 44 samples which were positive for HPV 18. Genetic variability was determined in PCR products and variants were assigned to European, Asian-amerindian or African lineage. Recombination and association of variants with different types of lesion was studied.


Genetic analysis of the regions revealed a total of 56 nucleotide variations. European, African and Asian-amerindian variants were found in 25/44 (56.8%), 10/44 (22.7%) and 5/44 (11.4%) samples, respectively. We detected the presence of recombinant variants in 2/44 (4.5%) cases. Samples taken from high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (H-SIL) only presented variants with specific-african substitutions.


Multiple HPV infection, non-european HPV variants prevalence and existence of recombination are considered risk factors for HPV persistence and progression of intraepithelial abnormalities, and therefore, should be taken into consideration in order to help to design and optimize diagnostics protocols as well as improve epidemiologic studies.

Our study is one of the few studies in Spain which analyses the genetic variability of HPV18 and we showed the importance of characterizing more than one genomic region in order to detect recombination and classify HPV variants properly.

Human papillomavirus infection; Genotype 18; Variants; Recombination; Multiple infection