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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

Background

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

Acknowledgements

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

Author information

Correspondence to Brenda M Birmann.

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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 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Keywords

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