Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 39, Number 5, September-October 2008
Number of page(s) 19
Published online 16 May 2008
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2008) 39:45
How to cite this article: Vet. Res. (2008) 39:45
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2008022


Bovine papillomaviruses, papillomas and cancer in cattle

Giuseppe Borzacchiello and Franco Roperto

Department of Pathology and Animal health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Naples University "Federico II", Via F. Delpino, 1 - 80137, Naples, Italy

Received 27 November 2007; accepted 7 May 2008; published online 16 May 2008

Abstract - Bovine papillomaviruses (BPV) are DNA oncogenic viruses inducing hyperplastic benign lesions of both cutaneous and mucosal epithelia in cattle. Ten (BPV 1-10) different viral genotypes have been characterised so far. BPV 1-10 are all strictly species-specific but BPV 1/2 may also infect equids inducing fibroblastic tumours. These benign lesions generally regress but may also occasionally persist, leading to a high risk of evolving into cancer, particularly in the presence of environmental carcinogenic co-factors. Among these, bracken fern is the most extensively studied. The synergism between immunosuppressants and carcinogenic principles from bracken fern and the virus has been experimentally demonstrated for both urinary bladder and alimentary canal cancer in cows whose diets were based on this plant. BPV associated tumours have veterinary and agricultural relevance in their own right, although they have also been studied as a relevant model of Human papillomavirus (HPV). Recent insights into BPV biology have paved the way to new fields of speculation on the role of these viruses in neoplastic transformation of cells other than epithelial ones. This review will briefly summarise BPV genome organization, will describe in greater detail the functions of viral oncoproteins, the interaction between the virus and co-carcinogens in tumour development; relevant aspects of immunity and vaccines will also be discussed.

Key words: cancer / cattle / co-factor / Papillomavirus / viruses

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2008