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Immunological characteristics of Spanish IDUs infected with HTLV-2 and HIV-1


HTLV-2 infection has been detected in injecting drug users (IDUs) in Spain, who often are coinfected with HCV and HIV-1. It has been reported that HCV infection increases the immune activation of HIV-1-infected patients. Our objective was to analyze how HTLV-2 infection affects T-cell activation and other immunological parameters such as naïve and memory T-cells and immunosenescence.


Eighteen HTLV-2 positive IDUs from Spain, also infected with HCV and HIV-1 were selected for this study. Fresh blood was immunostained with CD38+/HLA-DR+ antibodies to define activated cells, CD45RA+/CD62L+ for naïve T-cells, CD45RA-/CD62L- for effector memory T-cells and CD57+ for T-cell senescence, in both CD4+ and CD8+ cells. Immunological parameters were compared to two control groups, HCV-HIV-1 coinfected (N=7) and HIV-1 monoinfected patients (N=7).


The median of CD4+ and CD8+ counts for the HTLV-2-infected individuals were 497[312 632] and 784[598-1206], respectively. CD4+ count was lower than control groups, with no statistical difference. Among CD4+ cells, naïve cells decreased while effector memory cells increased. No significant differences were found in CD8+ level and senescence when compared to group controls. CD8+ cell activation (8.5[2.93-12.21] was higher than control groups, either HCV-HIV-1-coinfected patients (4.02[3.54-6.11], p=0.038) or HIV-1-monoinfected patients (5.7[2.72-8.32], p=0.056).


HTLV-2 induces an increase of CD8+ cell activation and senescence in HCV-HIV-1 coinfected patients compared to HCV-HIV-1 or HIV-1 infection. Besides, the levels of CD4+ count and CD4+ naïve cells are lower in these patients. Nevertheless, the CD4+ effector memory cells increased. This might have beneficial effects on HIV-1 or HCV infection.

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Correspondence to Maria Abad.

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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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Abad, M., Dronda, F., Moreno, A. et al. Immunological characteristics of Spanish IDUs infected with HTLV-2 and HIV-1. Retrovirology 8 (Suppl 1), A96 (2011).

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