Most of us are infected with human papilloma viruses. But the really interesting part is that the researchers found that the various HPV strains tend to interact, coexist, and offset symptoms in a balancing act - a HPV viral biome. From Medical Xpress:
In what is believed to be the largest and most detailed genetic analysis of its kind, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center and elsewhere have concluded that 69 percent of healthy American adults are infected with one or more of 109 strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). Only four of the 103 men and women whose tissue DNA was publicly available through a government database had either of the two HPV types known to cause most cases of cervical cancer, some throat cancers, and genital warts.
Researchers say that while most of the viral strains so far appear to be harmless and can remain dormant for years, their overwhelming presence suggests a delicate balancing act for HPV infection in the body, in which many viral strains keep each other in check, preventing other strains from spreading out of control. Although infection is increasingly known to happen through skin-to-skin contact, HPV remains the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States.
"Our study offers initial and broad evidence of a seemingly 'normal' HPV viral biome in people that does not necessarily cause disease and that could very well mimic the highly varied bacterial environment in the body, or microbiome, which is key to maintaining good health," says senior study investigator and NYU Langone pathologist Zhiheng Pei, MD, PhD.
Lead study investigator and NYU Langone research scientist Yingfei Ma, PhD, says "the HPV 'community' in healthy people is surprisingly more vast and complex than previously thought, and much further monitoring and research is needed to determine how the various non-cancer-causing HPV genotypes interact with the cancer-causing strains, such as genotypes 16 and 18, and what causes these strains to trigger cancer."
Among the study's other key findings: - Some 109 of 148 known HPV types were detected in study participants. - Most study participants had HPV infections in the skin (61 percent); then vagina (41 percent), mouth (30 percent), and gut (17 percent). - Skin samples contained the most varied HPV strains (80 types of HPV, including 40 that were found only in the skin). Vaginal tissue had the second most numerous strains (43 types of HPV, with 20 strains exclusive to the organ), followed by mouth tissue (33 types, of which five were exclusively oral in origin), and gut tissue (six types, all of which were found in other organs).