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Oncogene. 2005 Sep 5;24(39):6035-46.

Cellular immune response to HTLV-1.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Imperial College, St Mary's Campus, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG, UK.


There is strong evidence at the individual level and the population level that an efficient cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response to HTLV-1 limits the proviral load and the risk of associated inflammatory diseases such as HAM/TSP. This evidence comes from host population genetics, viral genetics, DNA expression microarrays and assays of lymphocyte function. However, until now there has been no satisfactory and rigorous means to define or to measure the efficiency of an antiviral CTL response. Recently, methods have been developed to quantify lymphocyte turnover rates in vivo and the efficiency of anti-HTLV-1 CTLs ex vivo. Data from these new techniques appear to substantiate the conclusion that variation between individual hosts in the rate at which a single CTL kills HTLV-1-infected lymphocytes is an important determinant, perhaps the decisive determinant, of the proviral load and the risk of HAM/TSP. With these experimental data, it is becoming possible to refine, parameterize and test mathematical models of the immune control of HTLV-1, which are a necessary part of an understanding of this complex dynamic system.

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