Volume 102, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Human t-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1)–associated myelopathy (HAM) is a progressive neurological disease whose diagnosis is defined by clinical manifestations and seropositivity for HTLV-1 infection. Cognitive impairment (CI) is considered to occur after spinal impairment. A 51-year-old HTLV-1–infected man classified as an asymptomatic carrier presented difficulties in listening comprehension and executive memory. He was assessed for central auditory processing (CAP), cognition (event-related auditory evoked potential [P300]), and otoneurological functions (galvanic vestibular-evoked myogenic potential [gVEMP]). Altered responses were found in CAP, P300, and gVEMP, but the neurological examination and cognitive screening were normal. After a 2-year follow-up, we disclosed a positive Babinski sign, a mild CI, worsened P300, and gVEMP latencies, and the patient reported progressive lumbar pain and difficulty running. He was, then, reclassified as HAM. The first examination, in 2016, had already shown abnormal results in P300 and gVEMP despite the HTLV-1–asymptomatic carrier status. Therefore, tests that provide subclinical measures of neurological disease progression can be useful tools for an early diagnosis and intervention in HTLV-1 patients. Electrophysiological results had worsened as well as the clinical status and the cognitive function and the progression from asymptomatic status to an HTLV-1–associated neurological disease occurred within 2 years. Thus, HTLV-1–infected individuals with complaints of CI, hearing, or otoneurological manifestations should be submitted to neuropsychological and electrophysiological tests, allowing them to be properly cared in case of HAM progression.


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  • Received : 19 Mar 2019
  • Accepted : 20 Oct 2019
  • Published online : 12 Dec 2020
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