When lesion regression does occur, it is not associated with massive apoptosis or cell death, and it appears, from animal model studies, that the lesion is cleared by the replacement of actively infected cells with ‘apparently normal cells’ as the basal cells continue to divide. These ‘apparently normal’ cells may still contain viral
genomes but without concomitant viral gene expression, and it has been suggested that the virus life cycle may become ‘re-activated’ subsequently following immune suppression or changes in hormone levels (Fig. 8). Indeed, recent studies using laser capture approaches have demonstrated genome persistence in the epithelial basal layer for over a year following regression in experimental systems, and support a model in which the viral genome can persist in the selleck inhibitor epithelial stem cell  and . Low-level Selleckchem SP600125 viral gene expression and viral copy number have consistently
been reported in studies of both asymptomatic infection and immune-mediated latency in humans and animal models , , ,  and . Immunosuppression studies support the idea that reactivation can occur at the site of previous infection, and persistence following regression has also been suggested in humans, although the duration is not yet well defined . It is clear that for cancer to develop, the virus has to evade immune detection over a prolonged period in order for genetic abnormalities to accumulate.
Cervical cancer patients have been reported to have a reduced or non-existent T-cell response to antigens of the causal HPV type  and . While this suggests that persistence may be linked to a failure of the immune response or an inability to recognise viral antigens, no clear link has yet been made with HLA type or other susceptibility indicators ,  and . Human papillomaviruses have evolved over millions of years to survive in a wide range of animal species, including humans. As is typical of next viruses that have co-evolved with their hosts, many PVs produce only chronic, inapparent infections, and produce virions from the surface of infected epithelium without apparent detriment to the host. This is the case for many Beta and Gamma HPV types. However, not all HPV types use the same strategy, and it appears that several of the Alpha PVs, in particular, have acquired immunoevasion strategies that allow them to cause persistent visible papillomas. As part of the PV life cycle in the epithelium, these viruses must activate the cell cycle in differentiating keratinocytes that would not normally be replication competent, so that they can amplify their genomes and package them into infectious particles.