Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer mortality in women worldwide, yet few suitable animal models currently exist for study of this disease. Virtually all cases of cervical cancer in women are caused by specific types of genital human papillomavirus (HPV). In this study, we investigated naturally occurring genital PVs in female cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) without breeding contact for at least 3.5 years. Exfoliated cervicovaginal cells from 19 of 54 animals tested positive for at least one PV. Seven different PVs were identified, including four novel genotypes and two genotypes (RhPV-d and RhPV-a) previously identified in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Four PV types were associated with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), which resembled human CIN by endoscopy, cervical cytology, histology, and immunohistochemistry. The presence of CIN was highly associated with PV infection (P < 0.0001). The most prevalent virus type was RhPV-d, which was identified in 60% of animals with CIN. An RhPV-d genome sequenced from a high-grade CIN lesion was found to be phylogenetically related to the highly oncogenic HPV16. Transfer of cervical cytobrush samples from donor animals naturally carrying RhPV-d resulted in new infections in 4 of 12 previously virus-free animals and abnormal cytology and histology in 1 of 4 infected animals after 18 weeks of infection. Experimental transmission was confirmed by E1∧4 reverse transcription-PCR products and RhPV-d sequence identity with the donor variant. These findings identify key similarities between macaque and human oncogenic PVs which should prove useful in the study of viral persistence, carcinogenesis, and therapeutic development.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science