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  • Meeting abstract
  • Open Access

Altered host immunity, human T lymphotropic virus type I replication, and risk of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma: a prospective analysis from the ATL Cohort Consortium

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Retrovirology20118 (Suppl 1) :A81

  • Published:


  • Virus Type
  • Blood Draw
  • Serologic Marker
  • Conditional Logistic Regression
  • Host Immunity


Adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) is a rare and often fatal outcome of infection with human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I). Altered host immunity in HTLV-I carriers has been postulated as a risk factor for ATL, but is not well understood.


We prospectively examined well-validated serologic markers of HTLV-I pathogenesis and host immunity in 53 incident ATL cases and 150 carefully matched asymptomatic HTLV-I carriers from eight population-based studies in Japan, Jamaica, the United States and Brazil. We used multivariable conditional logistic regression, conditioned on the matching factors (cohort/race, age, sex, and sample collection year), to evaluate the biomarkers’ associations with ATL in all subjects and by years (≤5, >5) from blood draw to ATL diagnosis.


In the pooled population, above-median soluble interleukin-2-receptor-alpha levels (sIL2R, v. ≤ median; odds ratio (OR), 95% confidence interval (CI)=4.08, 1.47-11.29) and anti-Tax seropositivity (anti-Tax; OR, 95% CI=2.97, 1.15-7.67), which indicate T cell activation and HTLV-I replication, respectively, were independently associated with an increased ATL risk. Above-median total immunoglobulin E levels (v. ≤ median; OR, 95% CI=0.45, 0.19-1.06), which indicate type 2 (B cell) activation, predicted a lower ATL risk. The sIL2R and anti-Tax associations with ATL were stronger in samples collected ≤5 years pre-diagnosis.


The biomarker profile predictive of ATL risk suggests a role for heightened T cell activation and HTLV-I replication and diminished type 2 immunity in the etiology of ATL in HTLV-I carriers. Translation of these findings to clinical risk prediction or early ATL detection requires further investigation.



This abstract is presented on behalf of the ATL Cohort Consortium.

Authors’ Affiliations

Channing Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA
Department of Rheumatology, Infectious Diseases and Laboratory Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan
RTI International, Rockville, Maryland 20852, USA
Department of Preventive Medicine, Institute of Health Biosciences, Tokushima University, Tokushima, Japan
Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
Hemominas Foundation, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Department of Preparedness, Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control and MTC, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
Department of Pathology, University of the West Indies, Mona Kingston, Jamaica
Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening, National Cancer Center, Japan
Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Department of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public Health, , University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
Departments of Laboratory Medicine and Epidemiology/Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco and Blood Systems Research Institute, San Francisco, California 94118, USA
Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, NIH, DHHS, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA
Department of Clinical Development, Oncology Product Creation Unit, Eisai Co. Ltd, Tokyo, Japan
Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, USA
Laboratory of Experimental Immunology, Cancer and Inflammation Program, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH, DHHS, Frederick, MD 21702, USA
Basic Research Program, SAIC-Frederick Inc., National Cancer Institute-Frederick, Frederick, MD 21702, USA
Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA
Current affiliation: Takeda Global Research and Development Center, Inc, Deerfield, Illinois 60015, USA


© Birmann et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011

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.