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Leukemia. 1997 Aug;11(8):1305-11.

The human T-cell lymphotropic viruses types I/II are not involved in T prolymphocytic leukemia and large granular lymphocytic leukemia.

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Department of Academic Hematology and Cytogenetics, Royal Marsden Hospital, London, UK.


The possible involvement of the human T lymphotropic viruses type I and II (HTLV-I and -II) in lymphoproliferative disorders of mature T cells other than adult T cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) has been controversial. Most studies have focused primarily on the cutaneous T cell lymphomas. However, skin involvement is a frequent feature of T prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL) and antibodies against HTLV-I and -II have been reported in individuals with large granular lymphocytic (LGL) leukemia. We examined 36 patients with T-PLL and 28 with LGL leukemia for evidence of HTLV-I and -II. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed on DNA from fresh peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and PBMCs after short-term culture (STC) using primers against all parts of the HTLV-I genome (LTR, gag, env, pol, tax/rex) and against HTLV-II pol and gag. Reverse transcriptase (RT) activity was measured on supernatants from STCs using a sensitive PCR-based technique. No HTLV-I or -II sequences were found by PCR nor RT activity detected in the 64 cases. Our findings do not provide evidence of HTLV-I or -II infection in T-PLL and LGL leukemia patients from an HTLV-I nonendemic area. Previous positive reports on these disorders may represent technical artefacts, detection of endogenous HTLV-like sequences or reflect patients from endemic areas and a variable etiology of T cell diseases.

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