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p16 as a diagnostic marker of cervical neoplasia: a tissue microarray study of 796 archival specimens

Iana Lesnikova1*, Marianne Lidang2, Stephen Hamilton-Dutoit1 and Jørn Koch1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Pathology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark

2 Institute of Pathology, Herlev Hospital, Herlev, Denmark

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Diagnostic Pathology 2009, 4:22  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-4-22

Published: 9 July 2009



To evaluate the usefulness of this biomarker in the diagnosis of cases of cervical neoplasia we studied the immunohistochemical expression of p16INK4a in a large series of archival cervical biopsies arranged into tissue microarray format.


TMAs were constructed with tissue cores from archival formalin fixed, paraffin-embedded donor tissues from 796 patients, and included cases of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN)1 (n = 249), CIN2 (n = 233), CIN3 (n = 181), and invasive cervical carcinoma (n = 133). p16INK4a expression was scored using two different protocols: 1) positive vs negative p16INK4a staining; 2) a semi-quantitative immunohistochemical score (0 to 8 points) according to the intensity of staining and the proportion of stained cells


p16INK4A expression was not seen in normal cervix tissue, but was found with increasing frequency in the sequence: CIN1 (180/249; 72.3%) – CIN2 (212/233; 91.0%) – CIN3 (178/181; 98.3%) – invasive carcinoma (131/133; 98.5%). Using semi-quantitative scoring, all normal cervical samples had low scores (from 0 to 2 points), whilst the number of specimens with high scores was proportional to the degree of cervical dysplasia or the presence of invasive carcinoma.


Immunohistochemical analysis of p16INK4a expression is a useful diagnostic tool. Expression is related to the degree of histological dysplasia, suggesting that it may have prognostic and predicative value in the management of cervical neoplasia.