Actinic keratosis is no laughing matter – untreated, up to 20% of cases may pregress to skin cancer. At the same time, if this paper had been published on 1st April (it wasn’t) I would have had my doubts. I’ve seen some interesting virus sampling protocols in my time (bear in mind we sequenced the horse faeces virome), but this one is pretty unique. As a side benefit, also reduces the risk of monobrow.
Eyebrow hairs from actinic keratosis patients harbor the highest number of cutaneous human papillomaviruses. BMC Infectious Diseases 2013, 13: 186 doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-186
Cutaneous human papillomavirus (HPV) infections seem to be associated with the onset of actinic keratosis (AK). This study compares the presence of cutaneous HPV types in eyebrow hairs to those in tissues of normal skin and skin lesions of 75 immunocompetent AK patients. Biopsies from AK lesions, normal skin and plucked eyebrow hairs were collected from each patient. DNA from these specimens was tested for the presence of 28 cutaneous HPV (betaPV and gammaPV) by a PCR based method. The highest number of HPV prevalence was detected in 84% of the eyebrow hairs (63/75, median 6 types) compared to 47% of AK lesions (35/75, median 3 types) (p< 0.001) and 37% of normal skin (28/75, median 4 types) (p< 0.001), respectively. A total of 228 HPV infections were found in eyebrow hairs compared to only 92 HPV infections in AK and 69 in normal skin. In all three specimens HPV20, HPV23 and/or HPV37 were the most prevalent types. The highest number of multiple types of HPV positive specimens was found in 76% of the eyebrow hairs compared to 60% in AK and 57% in normal skin. The concordance of at least one HPV type in virus positive specimens was 81% (three specimens) and 88-93% of all three combinations with two specimens. Thus, eyebrow hairs revealed the highest number of cutaneous HPV infections, are easy to collect and are an appropriate screening tool in order to identify a possible association of HPV and AK.