Inuit communities in northern Quebec have high rates of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, cervical cancer and cervical cancer-related mortality as compared to the Canadian population. HPV types can be further classified as intratypic variants based on the extent of homology in their nucleotide sequences. There is limited information on the distribution of intratypic variants in circumpolar areas.
Our goal was to describe the HPV intratypic variants and associated baseline characteristics.
We collected cervical cell samples in 2002-2006 from 676 Inuit women between the ages of 15 and 69 years in Nunavik. DNA isolates from high-risk HPVs were sequenced to determine the intratypic variant.
There were 149 women that were positive for HPVs 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 45, 52, 56 or 58 during follow-up. There were 5 different HPV16 variants, all of European lineage, among the 57 women positive for this type. There were 8 different variants of HPV18 present and all were of European lineage (n=21). The majority of samples of HPV31 (n=52) were of lineage B. The number of isolates and diversity of the other HPV types was low. Age was the only covariate associated with HPV16 variant category.
These frequencies are similar to what was seen in another circumpolar region of Canada, although there appears to be less diversity as only European variants were detected. This study shows that most variants were clustered in one lineage for each HPV type.