Screening for Oral High-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) among a Pediatric Patient Population

Introduction: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a known cancer-causing virus that has been primarily linked to cervical cancers. Recent studies have shown that HPV may also induce cancer in other tissues, including oral epithelia and mucosa. To determine the presence of oral HPV infection among pediatric patients, salivary samples were assessed to determine oral prevalence of high-risk HPV.

Methods: Using existing pediatric saliva samples from pediatric clinic patients (aged 6 – 16 years), this retrospective study involved isolating DNA for PCR screening for both high-risk strains of HPV (HPV16, HPV18). A total of n=98 patient samples were available for analysis.

Results: Demographic analysis of these samples revealed the majority were derived from females (63.2%) and mostly from Hispanics (54.1%). DNA was successfully isolated from 95.9% of samples (n=94/98) with an average concentration of 142.5 ng/uL. PCR screening demonstrated only a subset of patient samples harbored high-risk strains, HPV16 (n=9) and HPV18 (n=6), which represents 15.9% of the total sample population – and were concentrated among the older patients (>13 years old).

Conclusions: Although this retrospective study does not have a sufficient sample size to provide more robust analysis of other risk factors (race, sex, sociodemographic), these results to demonstrate that oral HPV infection may be successfully detected among a pediatric population. As more studies demonstrate oral HPV infection in children, these data are of significant value to other dental, medical, oral and public health professionals who seek to further an understanding of oral health and disease risk in pediatric populations.

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