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Detection of HPV subtypes by mass spectrometry in FFPE tissue specimens: a reliable tool for routine diagnostics
  1. Mark Kriegsmann1,
  2. Petra Wandernoth2,
  3. Katharina Lisenko3,
  4. Rita Casadonte4,
  5. Rémi Longuespée4,
  6. Norbert Arens2,
  7. Jörg Kriegsmann2,5
  1. 1Institute of Pathology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
  2. 2Institute of Molecular Pathology, Trier, Germany
  3. 3Department of Internal Medicine V, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
  4. 4Proteopath GmbH, Trier, Germany
  5. 5MVZ for Histology, Cytology and Molecular Diagnostics, Trier, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Mark Kriegsmann, Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 224, Heidelberg 69120, Germany; mark.kriegsmann{at}


Aims Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection is a causative agent for approximately 5% of all new cancer cases in humans. The virus is detected in cervical, anal, vaginal, penile, vulvar and head and neck cancers and has prognostic implications. Thus, test systems are required to detect high-risk but also low-risk HPV subtypes with high specificity and sensitivity in a time-effective and cost-effective manner. In the present study we developed a new mass spectrometry (MS)-based test system for the detection of HPV infections in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue samples.

Methods A high-throughput matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation time of flight MS-based assay was applied to genotype 19 HPV types in FFPE tissue specimens (n=46). The results from the MS assay were compared with the results obtained from two hybridisation-based test systems: the HPV 3.5 LCD-array kit and the EuroArrayHPV system.

Results In 36 out of 46 (78%) tissue samples, a HPV infection could be detected by the MS-based HPV assay. In 16 samples (44%) only one and in 20 samples (56%) two to six HPV subtypes were identified. The overall agreement of all three assays was almost perfect (Cohen's k value: 0.83).

Conclusions The MS-based assay is highly sensitive, reliable as well as cost-effective and represents a suitable technology for the detection of HPV infections in FFPE tissue material.

  • HPV

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  • MK and PW contributed equally to this work.

  • Handling editor Runjan Chetty

  • Contributors MK and PW drafted the manuscript. PW and NA acquired the data. MK and KL analysed the data. MK, KL and JK interpreted the data. RC, RL, KL, NA and JK revised the manuscript for important intellectual content. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

  • Funding MK is supported by the post-doc programme of the medical faculty of the University of Heidelberg.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics Committee of the University of Heidelberg.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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