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High HTLV-I proviral load in patients with HAM/TSP and ATLL but not with other disorders


HTLV-I proviral load (pVL) is proposed as a biomarker of disease progression. HTLV-I pVLs are higher in symptomatic compared to asymptomatic carriers. The aim of this study was to evaluate HTLV-I pVL in patients with HTLV-I associated diseases (HAM/TSP and ATLL) and other disorders (uveitis and pyoderma gangrenous–PG).


HTLV-I pVL was evaluated in 62 subjects; 52 asymptomatic and 10 symptomatic (5 HAM/TSP, 2 ATLL, 2 uveitis and 1 PG). HTLV-I pVL in PBMCs was estimated by a quantitative real-time PCR assay with SYBR Green, where HTLV-I pol gene is amplified in parallel with albumin gene as a normalizer. The limit of detection of the assay was of 400 copies of HTLV-I/106 PBMCs (0.04%). Differences among groups where assessed by Mann-Whitney test.


Symptomatic subjects (median=5.02 log10 copies/106 PBMCs, IQR=4.70-5.30) had significantly higher pVLs than asymptomatic carriers (median=4.11 log10 copies/106 PBMCs, IQR=3.55-4.66, p=0.0015). HAM/TSP patients had pVLs between 5.00-5.73 log10 copies/106 PBMCs (10-54%), ATLL patients had pVLs of 4.83 and 5.50 log10 copies/106 PBMCs (7% and 33%, respectively); patients with uveitis had pVLs of ~4.00 log10 copies/106 PBMCs (~1%) and PG patient had pVL of 4.56 log10 copies/106 PBMCs (4%). Patients with HAM/TSP and ATLL had significantly higher pVL (median=5.25 log10 copies/106 PBMCs) than those with other disorders (median=4.04 log10 copies/106 PBMCs, p=0.017).


HTLV-I pVL seems to be associated with pathogenic phenotype, being higher in subjects with HTLV-I associated diseases compared to those with other disorders.

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Correspondence to Natalia Altamirano.

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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.

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Altamirano, N., Remondegui, C., Fridman, A. et al. High HTLV-I proviral load in patients with HAM/TSP and ATLL but not with other disorders. Retrovirology 8 (Suppl 1), A36 (2011).

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