METHODS: Histologically confirmed invasive cervical carcinoma and benign cervices were assayed for telomerase activity using a commercial telomerase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) enzyme linked immunosorbent assay kit. The same cases were subjected to PCR detection of HPV using type specific (HPV types 6b, 11, 16, and 18) followed by L1 open reading frame (ORF) consensus primers.
RESULTS: HPV was detected in 18 (13 HPV-16, one HPV-6b, four only L1 ORF) of 20 invasive cervical carcinoma and one (only L1 ORF) of 19 benign cervices. Raised telomerase activity (A(450 nm) > 0.215) was detected in 11 cervical carcinomas, with A(450 nm) ranging between 0.238 and 21.790 (mean, 3.952) in positive squamous carcinomas, whereas A(450 nm) was only 0.222 in the one positive adenosquamous carcinoma. Five of 11 cervical carcinomas in stage I, three of six in stage II, both in stage III, and the only case in stage IV showed telomerase activation. Increased telomerase activity was noted in five of the 12 lymph node negative, five of the seven lymph node status unknown cases, and the one case with presumed lymph node metastasis. Ten of 18 HPV positive and one of two HPV negative cervical carcinomas showed telomerase upregulation.
CONCLUSIONS: Telomerase is activated in invasive cervical carcinoma. Although larger studies are needed, there seems to be no clear association between telomerase upregulation and HPV status, although there is a suggestion of increased telomerase activity in squamous carcinomas and late stage disease.