Infection with human papilomavirus (HPV) is causitive in the development of greater than 95% of cervical cancers and in other genital cancers. Recent evidence suggest that maligant tumors in the oral cavity also are associated with similar oncogenic HPV types. Studies further suggest that HPV may be causative in a subset of oral caner patients. The purpose of this study is to characterize the source of HPV transmission to the oral cavity and whether the virus may be a marker of early and greater susceptibility to oral cancer. HPV infection is thought to be not only sexually transmitted primarily between adults, but preliminary studies suggest that HPV may be is transmitted vertically during parturition from maternal cervical secretions to the oral cavity of her newborn. However, the frequency with which this mode, compared with the sexual mode, of transmission occurs is currently unclear. Thus maternal HPV infection may be associated with an increased prevalence of HPV i their newborns which subsequently could increase the offspring risk to oral cancer when they are adults. In this molecular epidemiology project we propose to examine the prevalence of vertical transmission of cervical HPV infection from pregnant women to the oral cavity of their newborns. Maternal cervical and oral specimens will be compared with their newborns for HPV DNA after birth, and at 1 week and 6 months follow-up to verify viral infection. To further verify the route of transmission, DNA sequencing of type specific HPV+maternal/newborn samples will be performed. Likewise paternal orals specimens will be collected and similar HPV types will be sequenced. The study also will characterize the prevalence of HPV in the oral cavity in a cross-section of youth between ages 1-20 for whom no data exist. Their prevalence rates will be compared to that in newborns to characterized changes in prevalence from birth to early adulthood in conjunction with information regarding potential acquisition of viral infection. The study will enhanced our knowledge about how HPV is transmitted to the oral cavity. This is important to determine since the evidence is mounting that HPV is causative in the development of oral cancer. The findings would provide information regarding the age at which one becomes a carrier of the virus and suggest whom to target for prevention of exposure,or early screening and vaccination against the virus before the onset of cancer.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG4-OBM-1 (03))
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University of Iowa
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
Iowa City
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