Genetic instability and anti-HPV immune response as drivers of infertility associated with HPV infection

Maria Isaguliants (Coresponding Author), Stepan Krasnyak, Olga Smirnova, Vincenza Colonna, Oleg Apolikhin, Franco M. Buonaguro

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection common among men and women of reproductive age worldwide. HPV viruses are associated with epithelial lesions and cancers. HPV infections have been shown to be significantly associated with many adverse effects in reproductive function. Infection with HPVs, specifically of high-oncogenic risk types (HR HPVs), affects different stages of human reproduction, resulting in a series of adverse outcomes: 1) reduction of male fertility (male infertility), characterized by qualitative and quantitative semen alterations; 2) impairment of couple fertility with increase of blastocyst apoptosis and reduction of endometrial implantation of trophoblastic cells; 3) defects of embryos and fetal development, with increase of spontaneous abortion and spontaneous preterm birth. The actual molecular mechanism(s) by which HPV infection is involved remain unclear. HPV-associated infertility as Janus, has two faces: one reflecting anti-HPV immunity, and the other, direct pathogenic effects of HPVs, specifically, of HR HPVs on the infected/HPV-replicating cells. Adverse effects observed for HR HPVs differ depending on the genotype of infecting virus, reflecting differential response of the host immune system as well as functional differences between HPVs and their individual proteins/antigens, including their ability to induce genetic instability/DNA damage. Review summarizes HPV involvement in all reproductive stages, evaluate the adverse role(s) played by HPVs, and identifies mechanisms of viral pathogenicity, common as well as specific for each stage of the reproduction process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalInfectious Agents and Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • DNA damage
  • Gastrulation
  • Genomic instability
  • Human papilloma viruses of high oncogenic risk type
  • Infertility
  • Oocyte
  • Reproductive health
  • Sperm cells
  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Viral integration

Field of Science*

  • 1.6 Biological sciences
  • 3.1 Basic medicine
  • 3.2 Clinical medicine
  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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