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HTLV-1 and bronchiectasis in a UK cohort, report and review


Associations between HTLV-1 and pulmonary disease have been reported but causality and risk have not been confirmed. Pulmonary function tests have been routinely offered to new patients attending the UK HTLV service whilst a retrospective case review has been conducted to determine the prevalence of diagnosed bronchiectasis.


The cohort was categorised into HTLV-1 symptomatic patients (SPs) (ATLL, HAM/TSP, polymyositis and strongyloidiasis) and asymptomatic carriers (ACs). Computerised tomographic (CT) imaging performed was reviewed. In 60 patients disease state was correlated with pulmonary function and HTLV-1 proviral load (VL).


8/249 ACs and 27/164 SPs had a CT, with productive cough +/- recurrent chest infections the predominant indication. Bronchiectasis was diagnosed in one AC (1/249) and 10 SPs (1 polymyositis, 1 ATLL, 8 HAM/TSP) (10/164, OR 16.10; p=0.0084). In univariate analysis increased rates of bronchiectasis were seen in HAM/TSP patients compared with all other categories (OR 14.1 p<0.0001) and non-African/Afro-Caribbean ethnicity subjects (OR 4.2; p=0.019) whilst age was significantly associated with bronchiectasis (p=0.002). PEFR (4.96 l/s vs. 6.77 l/s; p=0.0003), FEV1 (2.22 vs. 2.57; p=0.06) and KCO (1.35 s-1 vs. 1.59 s-1; p=0.0029) were all lower in SPs (n-27) compared with ACs (n-33) with a negative correlation between VL and PEFR (rr-0.25).


Bronchiectasis was common in the cohort and therefore HTLV serology should be considered in patients with bronchiectasis. Patients with non-pulmonary HTLV-1-associated disease are more likely to have an additional diagnosis of bronchiectasis and obstructive lung disease pattern than ACs suggesting an inflammatory aetiology.

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Correspondence to Shohreh Honarbakhsh.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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Honarbakhsh, S., Taylor, G.P. HTLV-1 and bronchiectasis in a UK cohort, report and review. Retrovirology 11 (Suppl 1), P11 (2014).

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