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Proc Biol Sci. 2001 Jun 22;268(1473):1215-21.

Cytotoxic T-cell abundance and virus load in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1.

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Institute for Advanced Study, Einstein Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA.


The correlation between virus load and specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) frequency during the chronic phase in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection has been found to be negative in cross-sectional studies. We report here that, in infection with the related retrovirus human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), the correlation is positive in asymptomatic carriers and zero in patients with the associated inflammatory disease HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). We demonstrate that the direction of the correlation may depend on the efficacy of the CTL response using mathematical models. We conclude that the CTL response is effective in asymptomatic carriers of HTLV-1, but ineffective in patients with HAM/TSP. Virus-mediated impairment of specific CTL production in HIV-1 infection can account for the negative correlation observed.

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