Article

HTLV1 proviral load in peripheral blood mononuclear cells quantified in 100 HAM/TSP patients: A marker of disease progression

Department of Neurology and UMR 433 INSERM, Pierre Zobda-Quitman Hospital, Fort-de-France, Martinique, French West Indies.
Journal of the Neurological Sciences (Impact Factor: 2.24). 01/2005; 237(1):53-59. DOI:10.1016/j.jns.2005.05.010

ABSTRACT A high proviral load of human T cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) has been reported in patients with HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of HTLV-1 proviral load in PBMCs (expressed as the number of copies per 106 PBMCs) in HAM/TSP disease course. One hundred consecutive HAM/TSP patients were recruited and assigned on the basis of the disability score and disease duration to either a rapid (n=38) or a slow (n=62) progression group. Thirty-four asymptomatic HTLV-1 carriers were also included. HTLV-1 proviral load was quantified in all HAM/TSP patients and asymptomatic subjects. The mean HTLV-1 proviral load was 6-fold lower in asymptomatic carriers than in HAM/TSP patients (18,224±24,811 vs. 107,905±96,651, p

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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: An estimated 10--20 million individuals are infected with the retrovirus human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). While the majority of these individuals remain asymptomatic, 0.3-4% develop a neurodegenerative inflammatory disease, termed HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). HAM/TSP results in the progressive demyelination of the central nervous system and is a differential diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS). The etiology of HAM/TSP is unclear, but evidence points to a role for CNS-inflitrating T-cells in pathogenesis. Recently, the HTLV-1-Tax protein has been shown to induce transcription of the human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) families W, H and K. Intriguingly, numerous studies have implicated these same HERV families in MS, though this association remains controversial. RESULTS: Here, we explore the hypothesis that HTLV-1-infection results in the induction of HERV antigen expression and the elicitation of HERV-specific T-cells responses which, in turn, may be reactive against neurons and other tissues. PBMC from 15 HTLV-1-infected subjects, 5 of whom presented with HAM/TSP, were comprehensively screened for T-cell responses to overlapping peptides spanning HERV-K(HML-2) Gag and Env. In addition, we screened for responses to peptides derived from diverse HERV families, selected based on predicted binding to predicted optimal epitopes. We observed a lack of responses to each of these peptide sets. CONCLUSIONS: Thus, although the limited scope of our screening prevents us from conclusively disproving our hypothesis, the current study does not provide data supporting a role for HERV-specific T-cell responses in HTLV-1 associated immunopathology.
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