(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Cervical cancers associated with human papillomavirus (HPV) infection may be linked to a small, discrete cell population that is located in the ectoendocervical squamocolumnar (SC) junction of the cervix, according to researchers of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA. The finding comes from a study entitled “A discrete population of squamocolumnar junction cells implicated in the pathogenesis of cervical cancer”, which was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on June 11.

In this study, the investigators aimed to identify the specific cell population targeted by HPV infection of the cervix and the ensuing mechanism(s) of carcinogenesis involved in the development of cervical cancer.  Using the tools of the cell and molecular biologist, the investigators in this study were able to uncover a discrete population of SC junctional cells with a unique morphology and gene-expression profile.

“We also demonstrated that the selected junctional biomarkers were expressed by a high percentage of high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and cervical cancers associated with carcinogenic HPVs but rarely in ectocervical/transformation zone CINs or those associated with noncarcinogenic HPVs,” the investigators wrote.

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Based on their findings, the investigators concluded that “carcinogenic HPV-related CINs and cervical cancers are linked to a small, discrete cell population that localizes to the SC junction of the cervix…” These finding are likely to aid in the discovery of novel targets for cervical cancer prevention, as well as in the providing a cellular model for elucidating the carcinogenic mechanisms employed by HPV that lead to the development of cervical cancer.