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  • Oral presentation
  • Open Access

Development of HTLV-1 associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis in a patient with simian T-lymphotropic virus type 1-like infection.

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  • 1Email author
Retrovirology201512 (Suppl 1) :O30

  • Published:


  • Proviral Load
  • Spastic Paraparesis
  • Proviral Genome
  • Infected Monkey
  • Progressive Myelopathy

Virus transmission from various wild and domestic animals contributes to increased risk of emerging infectious diseases in human populations. HTLV-1 is a human retrovirus associated with acute T-cell leukemia (ATL) and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP), which originated from zoonotic transmission from various African and Asian nonhuman primates (NHPs). Similar to HTLV-1, the simian counterpart, STLV-1, causes chronic infection and leukemia and lymphoma in naturally infected monkeys. However, other clinical syndromes typically seen in human such as a chronic progressive myelopathy have not been observed in NHPs. Little is also known about the development of any neurologic and inflammatory diseases in human populations infected with STLV-1-like viruses following NHP exposure. We identified and analyzed the complete genome of a primate T lymphotropic virus type 1 (PTLV-1) isolated from a patient with typical HAM/TSP who resides in the United States but was born in Liberia. Using a novel droplet digital PCR for the detection of the HTLV-1 tax gene, the proviral load in PBMC was 14.01%; however there was a distinct difference in fluorescence amplitude compared to all other H!M/TSP patient's, suggesting viral heterogeneity. A complete PTLV-1 proviral genome was amplified from DNA extracted from the PBMCs of the HAM/TSP patient using PCR to generate nine overlapping subgenomic fragments. Phylogenetic analysis of PTLV-1 env and LTR regions showed the virus was highly related with PTLV-1 from sooty mangabey monkeys and humans exposed from NHPs in West Africa. These results suggest the patient is likely infected with STLV-1, suggesting for the first time that viral transmission from monkey to human may be associated with a chronic progressive neurologic disease.

Authors’ Affiliations

Viral Immunology Section, Neuroimmunology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
Laboratory Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS, National Center for HIV, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA


© Enose-Akahata et al. 2015

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.