Dr. Philip E. Castle, of the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland, and team investigated 195 HPV-positive women who underwent colposcopy and were treated by LEEP for CIN2/3 and a comparison group of 1625 HPV-positive women who underwent colposcopy but not LEEP. The study retrospectively analyzed rates of acquisition of new HPV infections in these patients.

Our study found a slight reduction in acquisition of new carcinogenic HPV infections after LEEP, particularly those due to HPV phylogenetic species group 9, which include HPV-16 and is composed predominately of carcinogenic HPV genotypes, the researchers report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases for June 1st.

It was observed that women who underwent LEEP were 56% less likely to have HPV 16 and other high-risk carcinogenic genotypes of phylogenetic species group 9 detected at 6 months and 40% less likely to have these genotype detected at 24 months than those that did not undergo LEEP.

It was reported that LEEP damages the cervical tissue and causes an acute inflammatory response that reduces the susceptibility of new HPV infections specifically HPV-16-related genotypes but there was no any evidence provided to support such a mechanism.

The limitations of the study could not make it possible to draw a definitive conclusion about the protective effect of LEEP on acquisition of HPV infection, and the researchers urge caution against over-interpretation of the study findings.