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Microsc Res Tech. 2005 Nov;68(3-4):176-96.

The human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1): new insights into the clinical aspects and molecular pathogenesis of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) and tropical spastic paraparesis/HTLV-associated myelopathy (TSP/HAM).

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Department of Biological Sciences, Loyola University New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118, USA.


Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) was the first human retrovirus to be identified in the early 1980s. The isolation and identification of a related virus, HTLV-2, and the distantly related human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) immediately followed. Of the three retroviruses, two are associated definitively with specific diseases, HIV, with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and HTLV-1, with adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) and tropical spastic paraparesis/HTLV-1-associated myelopathy (TSP/HAM). While an estimated 10-20 million people worldwide are infected with HTLV-I, infection is endemic in the Caribbean, parts of Africa, southwestern Japan, and Italy. Approximately 4% of HTLV-I infected individuals develop ATLL, a disease with a poor prognosis. The clinical manifestations of infection and the current biology of HTLV viruses with emphasis on HTLV-1 are discussed in detail. The implications for improvements in diagnosis, treatment, intervention, and vaccination are included, as well as a discussion of the emergence of HTLV-1 and -2 as copathogens among HIV-1-infected individuals.

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