Sexually transmitted carcinogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are extraordinarily prevalent worldwide. However, most incident HPV infections clear within a few years, whereas a small minority persists to invasive cancer. Recent studies indicate that detection of methylated viral DNA may distinguish women with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2+ (CIN2+) from those with a carcinogenic HPV-type infection that shows no evidence of CIN2+. Several studies have reported a positive association between methylation of CpG sites in the L1 gene and CIN2+, although there are inconclusive results about methylation of CpG sites in the upstream regulatory region (URR). In this review, we summarize the current state of knowledge on HPV DNAmethylation in cervical carcinogenesis, and discuss the merits of different methods used to measureHPV DNA methylation. To follow the promising leads, we suggest future studies to validate the use of methylated carcinogenic HPV DNA as a predictive and/or diagnostic biomarker for risk of cervical cancer among HPV-positive women.
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