To investigate the aetiological role of human papillomavirus (HPV) in breast cancer, we examined the presence, genotype, viral load, and physical status of HPV in 124 Japanese female patients with breast carcinoma. Human papillomavirus presence was examined by PCR using SPF10 primers, and primer sets targeting the E6 region of HPV-16, -18, and -33. The INNO-LiPA HPV genotyping kit was used to determine genotype. Human papillomavirus DNA was detected in 26 (21%) breast carcinomas. The most frequently detected HPV genotype was HPV-16 (92%), followed by HPV-6 (46%), HPV-18 (12%), and HPV-33 (4%). In 11 normal epithelium specimens adjacent to 11 HPV-16-positive carcinomas, 7 were HPV-16-positive. However, none of the normal breast tissue specimens adjacent to HPV-negative breast carcinomas were HPV-positive. The real-time PCR analysis suggested the presence of integrated form of viral DNA in all HPV-16-positive samples, and estimated viral load was low with a geometric mean of 5.4 copies per 104 cells. In conclusion, although HPV DNA was detected in 26 (21%) breast carcinomas and, in all HPV-16-positive cases, the HPV genome was considered integrated into the host genome, their low viral loads suggest it is unlikely that integrated HPV is aetiologically involved in the development of Japanese breast carcinomas that we examined.
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