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Infection with Human T Lymphotropic Virus 1 is associated with bronchiectasis among Indigenous Australians


Infection with the Human T-Lymphotropic Virus 1 (HTLV-1) is associated with bronchiectasis in Indigenous Australians [1]. The present study defines the clinical presentation and outcomes of bronchiectasis according to HTLV-1 serostatus in this population.

Materials and methods

Retrospective cohort study at Alice Springs Hospital, central Australia. Medical records were reviewed for all Indigenous adults admitted between 2000-2006 with radiologically confirmed bronchiectasis and known HTLV-1 serostatus.


One-hundred and twenty patients were admitted during the study period, HTLV-1 serology was performed for 92 (75.8%) patients. Western blots confirmed HTLV-1 infection in 52 (58.4%) cases and were indeterminate for 3 patients. HTLV-1 seropositive patients more often had bilateral bronchiectasis (HTLV-1+, 37/51; HTLV-1-, 18/36; p=0.032) and ground glass opacities (HTLV-1+, 10/51; HTLV-1-, 1/36; p=0.028) on HRCT chest, but were less likely to have a pathogen isolated during an infective exacerbation (HTLV-1+, 16%; HTLV-1-, 20%; p=0.042). HTLV-1 seropositive patients were more likely to have cor pulmonale (HTLV-1+, 10/52; HTLV-1-, 1/37; p=0.023) and to suffer bronchiectasis-related deaths (OR 5.78; 95% CI, 1.17, 26.75; p=0.028). The mortality rate for the entire cohort during the 7 year period was 34.2%. Median age of death for both groups combined was 42.5 years. Only HTLV-1 seropositive patients were admitted for treatment of infected skin lesions and this was the major predictor of subsequent death from any cause on multivariable analysis (OR, 6.77, 95% CI, 1.46, 31.34; p=0.014).


In an Indigenous Australian cohort HTLV-1 infection is associated with bronchiectasis and an increased risk of pulmonary hypertension and death.


  1. Steinfort DP, Brady S, Weisinger HS, Einsiedel L: Bronchiectasis in central Australia: A young face to an old disease. Resp Med. 2008, 102: 574-578. 10.1016/j.rmed.2007.11.007.

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Correspondence to Lloyd Einsiedel.

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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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Einsiedel, L., Fernandes, L., Spelman, T. et al. Infection with Human T Lymphotropic Virus 1 is associated with bronchiectasis among Indigenous Australians. Retrovirology 8 (Suppl 1), A38 (2011).

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