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Transfusion. 1994 Jun;34(6):478-83.

Transfusion transmission of retroviruses: human T-lymphotropic virus types I and II compared with human immunodeficiency virus type 1.

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  • 1University of California, San Francisco.



The incidence of transfusion transmission of human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) and HTLV type II (HTLV-II) has not been compared directly or to that of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). The effects of refrigerator storage of the blood component on infectivity of the viruses needs definition.


The circumstances influencing the transmission of HTLV-I, HTLV-II, and HIV-1 via blood of donors whose sera were stored in a repository and who were retrospectively documented as having been infected at blood donation were examined. Confirmation and typing of anti-HTLV positivity in donors and recipients used polymerase chain reaction, supplemented by specific peptide testing.


Overall, 27 percent (26/95) of the recipients of blood components from anti-HTLV-I- and -II-positive donors became infected (9 with HTLV-I and 17 with HTLV-II). No recipients of acellular blood components became infected with HTLV-I or -II. There was no probable transmission by components stored > 10 days. The rates of transmission for both viruses were similar: 0 to 5 days' storage, 17 (74%) of 23; 6 to 10 days, 8 (44%) of 18; and 11 to 14, 0 (0%) of 10 (trend, p = 0.0002). In comparison, 89 percent (112/126) of the recipients of anti-HIV-1-positive blood were infected regardless of component type, and no effect on transmission occurred with storage for < 26 days.


Transfusion-transmitted HTLV-I and -II are similar. The data suggest that a donor's lymphocytes become noninfectious when they lose the ability to be activated or to proliferate.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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