GP5+/6+-based PCR followed by reverse line blot hybridization (GP5+/6+RLB) and multiplex type-specific PCR (E7-MPG) are two human papillomavirus (HPV) genotyping methodologies widely applied in epidemiological research. We investigated their relative analytical performance in 4,662 samples derived from five studies in Bhutan, Rwanda, and Mongolia coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A total of 630 samples were positive by E7-MPG only (13.5%), 24 were positive by GP5+/6+RLB only (0.5%), and 1,014 were positive (21.8%) by both methods. Ratios of HPV type-specific positivity of the two tests (E7-MPG:GP5+/6+RLB ratio) were calculated among 1,668 samples that were HPV positive by one or both tests. E7-MPG:GP5+/6+RLB ratios were >1 for all types and highly reproducible across populations and sample types. E7-MPG:GP5+/6+RLB ratios were highest for HPV53 (7.5) and HPV68 (7.1). HPV16 (1.6) and HPV18 (1.7) had lower than average E7-MPG:GP5+/6+RLB ratios. Among E7-MPG positive infections, median mean fluorescence intensity (MFI; a semiquantitative measure of viral load) tended to be higher among samples positive for the same virus type by GP5+/6+RLB than for those negative for the same type by GP5+/6+RLB. Exceptions, however, included HPV53, -59, and -82, for which the chances of being undetected by GP5+/6+RLB appeared to be MFI independent. Furthermore, the probability of detecting an additional type by E7-MPG was higher when another type was already detected by GP5+/6+RLB, suggesting the existence of masking effects due to competition for GP5+/6+ PCR primers. In conclusion, this analysis is not an evaluation of clinical performance but may inform choices for HPV genotyping methods in epidemiological studies, when the relative merits and dangers of sensitivity versus specificity for individual types should be considered, as well as the potential to unmask nonvaccine types following HPV vaccination.
- Journal Article