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J Infect Dis. 1999 Feb;179(2):497-502.

Human T cell leukemia virus type I expression in salivary glands of infected patients.

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  • 1Unité des Virus Lents, Institut Pasteur, 75274 Paris Cedex 15, France.


Human T cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I) sequences were sought in labial salivary glands of patients with HTLV-I-associated myelopathy or tropical spastic paraparesis and of seropositive neurologically healthy carriers. HTLV-I proviral DNA was found by polymerase chain reaction amplification in DNA extracted from lip biopsies of every patient. Viral RNA was found by in situ hybridization in the acini epithelium, as well as in lymphocytic infiltrates. This observation suggests that HTLV-I expression in labial salivary glands could participate in the inflammatory lesions observed in these patients. Some seronegative patients with Sjögren's syndrome or dryness syndrome were also positive for viral transactivator tax DNA (41% in Martinique and 16% in non-HTLV-I-endemic region). Despite histologic signs of lymphocytic infiltration, no viral expression was found in the labial salivary glands of these patients.

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