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Breast cancer and human papillomavirus infection: No evidence of HPV etiology of breast cancer in Indian women

Suresh Hedau1, Umesh Kumar1, Showket Hussain1, Shirish Shukla1, Shailja Pande1, Neeraj Jain1, Abhishek Tyagi1, Trivikram Deshpande3, Dilafroze Bhat4, Mohammad Muzaffar Mir5, Sekhar Chakraborty6, Y Mohan Singh7, Rakesh Kumar2, Kumaravel Somasundaram8, Alok C Bharti1 and Bhudev C Das12*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Molecular Oncology, Institute of Cytology & Preventive Oncology (ICMR), I-7, Sector - 39, Noida - 201 301, India

2 Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Centre for Biomedical Research, University of Delhi, Delhi - 110 007, India

3 Department of Zoology, Goa University, Goa - 403206, India

4 Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India

5 College of Medicine, Al-Souf University Sakaka, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

6 Department of Pathology, Silchar Medical College, Silchar-788014, India

7 Department of Pathology, Regional Institute of Medical Science, Imphal - 795004, India

8 Department of Microbiology & Cell Biology, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore - 560012, India

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:27  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-27

Published: 20 January 2011



Two clinically relevant high-risk HPV (HR-HPV) types 16 and 18 are etiologically associated with the development of cervical carcinoma and are also reported to be present in many other carcinomas in extra-genital organ sites. Presence of HPV has been reported in breast carcinoma which is the second most common cancer in India and is showing a fast rising trend in urban population. The two early genes E6 and E7 of HPV type 16 have been shown to immortalize breast epithelial cells in vitro, but the role of HPV infection in breast carcinogenesis is highly controversial. Present study has therefore been undertaken to analyze the prevalence of HPV infection in both breast cancer tissues and blood samples from a large number of Indian women with breast cancer from different geographic regions.


The presence of all mucosal HPVs and the most common high-risk HPV types 16 and 18 DNA was detected by two different PCR methods - (i) conventional PCR assays using consensus primers (MY09/11, or GP5+/GP6+) or HPV16 E6/E7 primers and (ii) highly sensitive Real-Time PCR. A total of 228 biopsies and corresponding 142 blood samples collected prospectively from 252 patients from four different regions of India with significant socio-cultural, ethnic and demographic variations were tested.


All biopsies and blood samples of breast cancer patients tested by PCR methods did not show positivity for HPV DNA sequences in conventional PCRs either by MY09/11 or by GP5+/GP6+/HPV16 E6/E7 primers. Further testing of these samples by real time PCR also failed to detect HPV DNA sequences.


Lack of detection of HPV DNA either in the tumor or in the blood DNA of breast cancer patients by both conventional and real time PCR does not support a role of genital HPV in the pathogenesis of breast cancer in Indian women.