Serological markers of squamous intraepithelial lesions (SILs), the precursors of cervical cancer, have not been studied extensively. To screen for antibody responses that might be associated with SILs, we measured IgG and/or IgA to nine antigens based on papillomaviruses, the infectious cause of SIL and cervical cancer, using an ELISA format. Cases were 59 women with low grade SIL (LSIL) and 38 with high grade SIL (HSIL). Controls were 50 women chosen to minimize the possibility that they ever had SILs [individuals who had no history of SIL and repeatedly tested negative for cervical human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA], frequency age-matched to cases. The data showed that five antibodies had strong positive associations with SILs and that one was inversely related to SILs. By studying these antibodies in pairs, furthermore, we found that case-control differences were enhanced. In particular, the combination of IgG to an epitope in the E6 protein of HPV 16 (E6:10) and IgA to HPV 16 virus-like particles (VLPs) was detected in 53% of LSILs and 65% of HSILs but only 9% of controls. These same responses were both negative in just 6% of LSILs and zero HSILs, compared to 59% of controls. Notably, E6:10 IgG and HPV 16 VLP IgA were not correlated with each other, and the other antibody responses positively associated with SILs could be broken into two groups: those correlated with E610 IgG and those correlated with HPV 16 VLP IgA. Overall, the data suggest that several papillomavirus antibodies may be strongly related to SILs, and that they can be divided into at least two independent groups of humoral immune reactions.

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