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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Nov;87(22):8840-4.

Isolation of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 2 from Guaymi Indians in Panama.

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Retrovirus Disease Branch, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA 30333.


Human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) is associated with adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma and with a chronic degenerative myelopathy. However, another major type of HTLV, HTLV-II, has been isolated only sporadically, and little is known of disease associations, transmission routes, and risk factors for HTLV-II infection. Recent studies indicate that a high percentage of certain groups of i.v. drug users and blood donors are infected with HTLV-II. Seroepidemiologic studies have found an elevated rate of seroreactivity to HTLV among Guaymi Indians from Bocas del Toro Province, Panama. To identify the cause of seroreactivity among this unique population we used HTLV-II-specific polymerase chain reaction techniques to detect HTLV genetic sequences from blood leukocytes of three seropositive Guaymi Indians. The HTLV-II primer-amplified polymerase chain reaction products from two of these subjects were partially sequenced and matched published HTLV-II nucleotide sequences in both p24 gag (94% of 107 bases) and pol (98% of 112 bases) regions. A CD4+ T-lymphocyte line established from one of these same subjects produced HTLV-II-specific proteins when tested in antigen-capture and immunoblot assays, as well as mature HTLV particles. The demonstration of HTLV-II infection in this geographically and culturally isolated Central American Indian population without typical risk factors for HTLV infection suggests that HTLV-II infection is endemic in this population and provides an important clue to potential natural reservoir for this virus.

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