Link found between genital warts and the immune system

A link has been discovered between genital warts and the part of the immune system that helps to regulate immune responses, a conference has heard.

Danish research, presented at the EADV Congress 2021, has found genetic variants in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) system influence the risk of genital warts.

Researchers identified 12 protective gene variations (odds ratios (OR) 0.4-0.8) and seven risk alleles (OR 1.1-1.3) in their patient cohort and found individuals with risk alleles were less successful at recognising the HPV virus and were more likely to develop genital warts.

Participants with protective alleles had better immune responses and were more effective at recognising HPV, limiting the likelihood of presenting with condylomas.

Dr Pernille Lindsø Andersen, from the Department of Clinical Immunology and Department of Dermatology at Zealand University Hospital, said: “Condylomas is one of the most prevalent of all sexually transmitted diseases, but its association with the HLA system is poorly understood.

“Our research identifies key immunologic features that prove there is a link between the immune system and condylomas.”

The research team examined a cohort of 65,791 blood donors, 4,199 of whom were classed as condyloma acuminata cases, while the remaining 61,592 were used as a control group.

Cases were defined as those registered with a minimum of one redeemed prescription of medication for condyloma acuminata or had a diagnosis of condyloma acuminata.

The researchers say more research is needed to determine whether protective alleles can recognise specific proteins made by HPV.

Lindsø Andersen P et al The Human Leukocyte Antigen System in Genital Warts. Abstract no. 2199, submitted to EADV 30th Congress, 29-02 October 2021.

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