Characterization of Human Papillomavirus 16 from Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo)-Implications for Pathogenicity and Vaccine Effectiveness
Paula Iglesias 1 , Celine Tendobi 2 , Silvia Carlos 3 4 5 , Maria D Lozano 4 6 , David Barquín 1 , Luis Chiva 4 7 , Gabriel Reina 1 4 5
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 is the main etiological agent of cervical cancer worldwide. Mutations within the virus genome may lead to an increased risk of cancer development and decreased vaccine response, but there is a lack of information about strains circulating in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Endocervical cytology samples were collected from 480 women attending a voluntary cervical cancer screening program at Monkole Hospital and four outpatient centers in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The prevalence of HPV infection was 18.8% and the most prevalent high-risk types were HPV16 (12.2%) followed by HPV52 (8.8%) and HPV33/HPV35 (7.8% each). HPV16 strains were characterized: 57.1% were classified as C lineage; two samples (28.6%) as A1 and one sample belonged to B1 lineage. HPV33, HPV35, HPV16, and HPV58 were the most frequent types associated with low-grade intraepithelial lesion while high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions were predominantly associated with HPV16.
Several L1 mutations (T266A, S282P, T353P, and N181T) were common in Kinshasa, and their potential effect on vaccine-induced neutralization, especially the presence of S282P, should be further investigated. Long control region (LCR) variability was high with frequent mutations like G7193T, G7521A, and G145T that could promote malignancy of these HPV16 strains.
This study provides a helpful basis for understanding HPV16 variants circulating in Kinshasa and the potential association between mutations of LCR region and malignancy and of L1 and vaccine activity.