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Open Access Research article

TTV and HPV co-infection in cervical smears of patients with cervical lesions

Martina Saláková1*, Vratislav Němeček2 and Ruth Tachezy1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Experimental Virology, Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, Prague, Czech Republic

2 National Reference Laboratory for Viral Hepatitis, National Institute of Public Health, Prague, Czech Republic

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:118  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-118

Published: 28 July 2009



The female lower genital tract is a gateway for pathogens entering the host through the mucous membrane. One of the prevalent human viruses is Torque teno virus (TTV). The major reported routes of TTV transmission are fecal-oral and parenteral. Furthermore, other modes of transmission, e.g. sexual contact, are suggested. To investigate the sexual route of TTV transmission, cervical smears of healthy women and those with cervical lesions were screened for the presence of TTV DNA.


TTV DNA was studied in cervical smears of 95 patients with cervical lesions and 55 healthy women. Paired serum samples were available from 55 and 42 women, respectively. All healthy women had normal cytology while 44 patients had histologically confirmed low-grade lesion (LGL) and 51 high-grade lesion (HGL). TTV DNA was detected with primers specific for the non-coding region. In 40 paired cervical smears and serum samples, the phylogenetic group of TTV isolates was determined. The presence of HPV DNA in cervical smears was detected by means of PCR with MY09/11 primers.


The prevalence of TTV DNA in cervical smears of healthy women was 52.7% and was comparable with that in paired serum samples (50%). Symptomatic women had significantly higher prevalence of TTV DNA in cervical smears (74.7%) than healthy controls. The TTV DNA prevalence in patient serum samples was 51%. The phylogenetic groups of TTV serum isolates were concordant with those of TTV from cervical smears of the same subjects. In cervical smears, a wider variety of TTV isolates was found. The viral loads in cervical smears were 10 to 1000 times as high as in sera. The HPV-positive study subjects had significantly higher TTV DNA prevalence than HPV negatives. The prevalence of TTV was not associated with disease severity.


High prevalence of TTV in cervical smears suggests that sexual transmission is another mode of expansion of TTV infection among the population. The higher viral load in cervical smears than in the respective serum samples might indicate active TTV replication in the female genital tract. Nevertheless, cooperation between TTV and HPV needs to be further investigated.