Research Highlight

Higher incidence of high-risk HPV in prostate cancer

doi:10.1038/nindia.2015.16 Published online 5 February 2015

Researchers have found that the incidence of high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is significantly higher in prostate cancer samples than in controls. The finding supports the hypothesis that HPV might have a possible role in the development or progression of prostate cancer1.

In the first study of the kind in India, the researchers compared 95 prostate tumour biopsies with 55 benign prostate hyperplasia samples used as controls. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) with consensus primers indicated that 41% of the tumours had an HPV infection as opposed to 20% in the controls. 

Subsequent PCR with type-specific primers showed that a majority of these prostate tumours had high-risk HPV infections (77% with HPV type 16 and 15% with type 18) while the low-risk type were more frequent in the controls (64% with HPV type 6 or type 11). 

The researchers also found that a higher proportion of later stage tumours were HPV infected. Also, a higher proportion of poorly differentiated tumours had an HPV infection. 

Almost all cervical cancers are attributed to HPV infection, in particular, the high-risk types 16 and 18. One of the authors of the study Mausumi Bharadwaj says if HPV infection is one of the co-factors in prostate cancer development in India, then approved HPV vaccines could also be used to control prostate cancer in the population.


1. Singh, N et al. Implication of high risk Human papillomavirus HR-HPV infection in prostate cancer in Indian population -- A pioneering case-control analysis. Sci Rep. (2015). doi: 10.1038/srep07822