Objective: To investigate the clinical significance of abnormal human telomerase RNA gene component (hTERC) gene amplification tested by fluorescence in situ hybridization in cervical lesions.
Methods: In 373 patients with cytologic abnormalities, high-risk human papilomavirus (HR-HPV) was detected by the hybrid capture II method, and abnormal amplification of the hTERC gene in exfoliated cells was detected by fluorescence in situ hybridization.
Results: Cell smear findings suggested atypical squamous cells in 148 patients, low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion in 62 patients, and high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion in 107 patients, squamous cell carcinoma in 56 patients, and cervical biopsy-revealed inflammation in 89 patients, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) I in 36 patients, CIN II in 43 patients, CIN III in 129 patients, and infiltrating carcinoma in 76 patients. In the inflammation, CIN I, CIN II, CIN III, and infiltrating carcinoma groups, the infection rates of HR-HPV were 29.21%, 52.78%, 74.42%, 92.25%, and 93.42% (P < 0.01), respectively; the positive rates of hTERC gene amplification were 0.00%, 13.89%, 41.86%, 78.29%, and 89.47% (P < 0.01), respectively. With respect to advanced cervical lesions (≥CIN II), cytology (≥ low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion), HR-HPV testing, and hTERC testing differed insignificantly in the negative predictive value (P > 0.05), but they differed significantly in the sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value (P < 0.01). Among the 3 methods, hTERC testing showed the highest specificity and positive predictive value, and HR-HPV testing showed the highest sensitivity. In 41 patients with untreated CIN I and CIN II, the sensitivity of detection of hTERC gene amplification to predict lesion progression was 88.89%, and the specificity was 93.75%.
Conclusion: Detection of abnormal amplification of the hTERC gene can assist in screening cervical lesions and identifying CIN I/II patients with a high progression risk.