Skip to main content

Immunohistochemical and virological features of HTLV-1-associated myosites: a study of 13 patients from West Indies and Africa


HTLV-1 is associated with the onset of various inflammatory diseases such as HTLV-1 Associated Myelopathy / Tropical Spastic Paraparesis, uveitis, infective dermatitis or inflammatory myopathies. Here, we aimed to get new insights into the pathogenesis of HTLV-1 associated inflammatory myopathies (HAIM) by studying muscle biopsy specimens and blood samples from 13 HAIM patients.


Mean age of patients was 52.2 years. 7 patients suffered from polymyositis (PM), and 6, from inclusion body myositis (IBM). Histopathological changes were mild to moderate in most patients. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and myeloid dendritic cells were detected in several patients’ biopsies, and Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)-ABC, HLA-DR, and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-2, -9), in most of them. Perforin was frequently detected but there were no apoptotic myonuclei. By means of in situ hybridization, we detected rare HTLV-1 infected infiltrating cells in the muscle tissue of 4 patients. The virus belonged to the cosmopolitan A subtype, transcontinental subgroup. Plasma anti-HTLV-1 antibodies titers were high, but the proviral load was not elevated when compared to asymptomatic HTLV-1 carriers. Myositis-associated autoantibodies were found in patients with HAIM as well as in HTLV-1 infected controls without HAIM, whereas IFN-gamma plasma levels were elevated in HAIM patients.


We describe 13 cases of HTLV-1 associated myositis, which show the classical anatomopathologic features of idiopathic myositis, with moderate muscle inflammation and atrophy. Proviral load was not elevated, but anti-HTLV-1 antiboides titer and IFN-gamma plasma levels were raised.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pierre-Emmanuel Ceccaldi.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is 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.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Desdouits, M., Cassar, O., Maisonobe, T. et al. Immunohistochemical and virological features of HTLV-1-associated myosites: a study of 13 patients from West Indies and Africa. Retrovirology 8 (Suppl 1), A41 (2011).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: