Selectivity of Human T Lymphotropic Virus Type-1 (HTLV-1) and HTLV-2 Infection Among Different Populations in Brazil

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  • Escola Paulista de Medicina, Abbott Laboratories, Neuroepidemiology Branch, National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Sao Paulo , Brazil

A seroprevalence study for human T lymphotropic virus type-1 (HTLV-1) and HTLV-2 was conducted in Sao Paulo, Brazil among 2,312 individuals that included following groups: 1,148 volunteer blood donors, 37 patients with tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP), 53 with lymphoproliferative disorders, 171 with a history of multiple blood transfusions, 268 human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) seropositive subjects, and 635 Amazonian Indians. Antibodies to HTLV-1/2 were screened by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and confirmed by Western blot and/or radioimmunoprecipitation. The differentiation of HTLV-1 and HTLV-2 was achieved using a synthetic recombinant peptide (rgp46) ELISA. We confirmed the presence of HTLV-1 infection in Brazil, both in blood donors (0.4%) and in patients exposed to blood transfusions (2.9%), as well as the occurrence of HTLV-1-associated TSP (11 patients, or 30% of all TSP cases) and adult T cell leukemia/lymphoma (two cases, or 3.5% of all hematologic malignancies). The HIV-1 infected individuals were shown to be coinfected (8.9%) with either HTLV-1 or HTLV-2. All HIV-1 and HTLV-2 coinfected individuals were intravenous drug abusers. In addition, we also demonstrated the presence of HTLV-2 (4.7%), and HTLV-1/2 (0.8%) in tribes of Amazonian Indians who lived in the eastern Amazon basin (southeastern State of Para). The selectivity of these retroviral infections in particular groups is emphasized, as well as the need for HTLV-1/2 screening of all blood donors in Brazil as a public health measure.