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Home  > HPV > Lichen sclerosus and HPV

Lichen sclerosus and HPV

Lichen sclerosus is a skin lesion which begins as a small, bluish white papule. Frequently, coalescence of multiple papules produces a picture of diffuse whitish change over the entire vulva and perianal region.

There is some good evidence that lichen sclerosus (LS) can be caused by HPV. In all cases of LS, it would be worthwhile to support the immune system.

Pediatr Dermatol 1998 Mar-Apr;15(2):85-90:

Human papillomavirus is present in some cases of childhood penile lichen sclerosus: an in situ hybridization and SP-PCR study.

Drut RM, Gomez MA, Drut R, Lojo MM. Department of Pathology, Hospital de Ninos, La Plata, Argentina.

"Lichen sclerosus (LS) is a skin disease that may affect both sexes at all ages and at any site. Its etiology remains unknown. The observation of focal changes in prepuce samples of LS in children prompted us to investigate the presence of HPV-DNA. Twenty-three paraffin-embedded samples of LS lesions from children aged 4 to 14 years were studied using nested-PCR and in situ hybridization (ISH). Twelve out of 23 cases amplified HPV-DNA (8 cases corresponded to HPV-DNA type 6; 2 cases each to HPV-DNA types 16 and 18). ISH detected HPV sequences in the nuclei of certain cells in 13 cases (9/13 also HPV-DNA positive by PCR).

Our results demonstrated the presence of HPV-DNA in roughly 70% of cases of LS of the prepuce in children. We highlight the observation of certain cell changes in the prepuce and its association with HPV. The possible pathogenetic significance between the virus and the lesion is not settled."

Australas J Dermatol 1997 Jun;38 Suppl 1:S20-5:

Vulvar squamous cell carcinoma and lichen sclerosus.

Scurry JP, Vanin K. Mercy Hospital for Women, East Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

"There are two clinicopathological types of vulvar squamous cell carcinoma, human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive and HPV-negative, which can be distinguished to some degree on routine histology. Human papillomavirus-positive carcinomas account for one-quarter to one-third of cases, occur in women on average 20 years younger than in HPV-negative, and are associated with multiple lower genital tract neoplasia. Human papillomavirus negative carcinoma is linked to lichen sclerosus. Of all carcinomas, 7-96% show lichen sclerosus in skin adjacent to the carcinoma, the majority being the first presentation of lichen sclerosus, and up to 5% of patients with lichen sclerosus develop carcinoma after long-term follow up. Where lichen sclerosus is associated with malignancy, it is often hyperplastic, may show a subtle form of intraepithelial neoplasia termed 'differentiated vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia', and may lose its pathognomonic edematous-hyaline layer. The local additional factors causing lichen sclerosus to develop malignancy on the vulva are not known."

Int J Gynecol Cancer 1999 Mar;9(2):89-97:

Does lichen sclerosus play a central role in the pathogenesis of human papillomavirus negative vulvar squamous cell carcinoma? The itch-scratch-lichen sclerosus hypothesis.

Scurry J. Pathology, Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

"In the past decade, two types of vulvar squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) have been delineated, Human papillomavirus (HPV) positive and negative. Clinicopathologic, virologic, cytomorphometric, and genetic differences support the view that these two types of carcinoma are fundamentally different and that HPV-negative carcinoma is not simply carcinoma where viral DNA has not been able to be identified. The traditional view of HPV-negative carcinoma is that it is caused by chronic tissue damage from itching and scratching. However, itching and scratching alone do not explain the close association of carcinoma with lichen sclerosus, or the absence of such an association with other itchy conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. These observations point to a role for lichen sclerosus in the pathogenesis of vulvar carcinoma. Most observations about the etiology of lichen sclerosus can be grouped into its immunogenetic or genital predisposition, or the Kobner phenomenon. In the itch-scratch-lichen sclerosus hypothesis, lichen sclerosus is postulated to occur as a Kobner phenomenon in women with the susceptible immunophenotype who scratch because of genital irritants such as urine, vaginal secretions and smegma, and psychological factors. Lichen sclerosus, itself a very itchy condition, contributes to a vicious cycle of itching and scratching which leads to superimposed lichen simplex chronicus, squamous cell hyperplasia, and ultimately carcinoma. The itch-scratch-lichen sclerosus hypothesis reconciles the traditional itch-scratch hypothesis with the strong clinicopathologic association of lichen sclerosus with carcinoma."

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Dr. Joe Glickman, Jr., M.D.

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