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Bull Soc Pathol Exot. 2000 Jul;93(3):163-71.

[Epidemiology, origin and genetic diversity of HTLV-1 retrovirus and STLV-1 simian affiliated retrovirus].

[Article in French]

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D├ępartement du sida et des r├ętrovirus, Institut Pasteur, Paris.


Human T Cell leukemia/lymphoma virus type I, the first human oncogenic retrovirus, is the aetiological factor of Adult T cell leukemia (ATL), a CD4+ malignant lymphoproliferative disease and of a chronic neuromyelopathy, the tropical spastic paraparesis or HTLV-1 associated myelopathy (TSP/HAM). HTLV-1, which infects from 15 to 25 million individuals world-wide, is highly endemic in certain areas such as south-western Japan, Central Africa, the Caribbean basin and some regions of South America, Melanesia and of the middle East (for example the Mashhad area of Iran). The three major modes of transmission for HTLV-1 infection are perinatal, sexual and by blood transfusion. Recent molecular studies on HTLV-1 have shown the existence of several molecular subtypes (genotypes). These are related to the geographical origin of the infected populations and not to the associated diseases. The virus has a very high genetic stability. Viral amplification via clonal expansion of infected cells, rather than by use of reverse transcription could explain this remarkable phenomenon which can be used as a molecular tool for gaining new insights into the origin, evolution and modes of dissemination of HTLV-1. Analyses of HTLV-1 and STLV-1 (the simian counterpart) viral strains from throughout the world suggest that four events are responsible for this pattern of dissemination: 1) the transmission in the wild of STLV-1 between simian species, 2) the transmission of STLV-1 to humans as exemplified by the high percentage of identity between STLV-1 strains from chimpanzees or from mandrills with some HTLV-1 strains present in inhabitants of Central Africa, 3) persistence of HTLV-1 over a long period of time (by sexual and perinatal transmissions) in remote populations, as seen in the Australo-Melanesian region and 4) a global distribution of HTLV-1 via large scale human migrations, e.g., the slave trade from Africa to the New World.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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