The role of human telomerase catalytic subunit mRNA expression in cervical dysplasias
AuthorTsezou, A.; Oikonomou, P.; Kollia, P.; Mademtzis, I.; Kostopoulou, E.; Messinis, I.; Vamvakopoulos, N.
Telomerase activity and human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) mRNA expression were investigated in cervical specimens and were correlated with cytologic findings and the presence of human papilloma virus (HPV) infection. Telomerase activity was evaluated by the telomeric repeat protocol assay and hTERT mRNA expression was evaluated by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR). HPV DNA was detected by PCR, as well as restriction endonuclease digestion. HPV DNA was detected in all 82 specimens with abnormal cytologic findings and in 4 of 34 normal samples. Low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (LGSlLs) were present in 74 of 82 specimens (90.2%) and high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HGSILs) were present in 8 of 82 (9.75%) specimens. Seven of the eight HGSIL (87.5%) and 26 of 74 LGSIL (35.1%) specimens were hTERT positive, whereas all normal specimens were hTERT mRNA negative. Telomerase activity was detected in 21 of 74 (28.4%) LGSIL/atypical squamous epithelial cells of undetermined significance (ASCUS) and in five of eight (62.5%) HGSIL samples. A correlation was observed among telomerase activity, hTERT mRNA expression, and high-risk HPV infection in HGSIL samples (P < 0.001). High-risk HPV infection assessment showed 75% sensitivity and 72.2% specificity for HGSlLs. Telomerase activity assessment in cervical smears showed sensitivity and negative predictive value (NPV) for HGSILs 62.5% and 96.7%, whereas specificity and positive predictive value (PPV) were 80.5% and 19.2%, respectively. hTERT mRNA expression assessment showed 87.5% sensitivity and 98.7% NPV for HGSILs, whereas specificity and PPV were 76% and 21.2%, respectively. Based on the above-described telomerase assessment values, it is suggested that the telomerase system might not be an appropriate diagnostic marker for cytology, given that the final evaluation must rely on a combination of all available test assessment data, clinical diagnosis, as well as the follow-up of all LGSIL samples that were positive for telomerase activation.