Human T-cell leukemia-lymphoma virus type I (HTLV-I) expression in fresh peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with tropical spastic paraparesis/HTLV-I-associated myelopathy

A Gessain, A Louie, O Gout, R C Gallo, G Franchini
1991 Journal of Virology  
Tropical spastic paraparesis/human T-cell leukemia-lymphoma virus type I (HTLV-I)-associated myelopathy (TSP/HAM) is a chronic neurological illness epidemiologically associated with HTLV-I infection. We investigated the role of HTLV-I in the pathogenesis of this disease by studying viral expression in fresh uncultured peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of six patients of Caribbean origin with TSP/HAM. The PBMC genomic DNA of all the patients studied carried HTLV-I provirus, but viral
more » ... ression was not detected by Northern (RNA) blot analysis of total cellular PBMC RNA. When the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction technique was used with primers specific for the tax-rex mRNA, all of the samples were positive for this viral mRNA species, regardless of the duration of the illness (range, 2 to 13 years). The splice junctions for the tax-rex mRNA described in cases of HTLV-I-induced adult T-cell leukemia (position 5183 of the envelope and position 7302 of the pX region) were identical in three TSP/HAM cases studied. To ascertain whether viral expression occurred at a low level in many cells or at a high level in a few permissive cells, we performed in situ hybridization on fresh PBMCs from two patients (2 and 7 years after clinical diagnosis), seeking HTLV-I RNA sequences. Our finding indicated that in vivo HTLV-I expression occurred at a high level in a few cells (1 of every 5,000 PBMCs) in both cases studied. The fact that cells of all six patients with TSP/HAM were positive for viral expression, regardless of the time lag from diagnosis, suggests that persistent expression of a viral product(s) may be pivotal in the pathogenesis of TSP/HAM.
doi:10.1128/jvi.65.3.1628-1633.1991 fatcat:fnirjgmz25brhl7b553a64xzxu