Mother-to-child transmission of human T-cell-leukemia/lymphoma virus type I: implication of high antiviral antibody titer and high proviral load in carrier mothers

Int J Cancer. 1999 Sep 9;82(6):832-6. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0215(19990909)82:6<832::aid-ijc11>;2-p.


In order to gain new insights into the risk factors influencing human-T-cell-leukemia/lymphoma-virus-type-I (HTLV-I) mother-to-child transmission, a retrospective study of HTLV-I infection among children born to HTLV-I-seropositive women was carried out in a highly HTLV-I-endemic population of African origin living in French Guyana. The study covered 81 HTLV-I-seropositive mothers and their 216 children aged between 18 months old and 12 years old. All plasma samples were tested for the presence of HTLV-I antibodies by ELISA, immunofluorescence assay and Western blot. HTLV-I provirus was detected, in the DNA extracted from peripheral-blood mononuclear cells, by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers specific for 3 different HTLV-I genomic regions (LTR, gag and pX) and quantified by a competitive PCR assay. Out of the 216 children, 21 were found to be HTLV-I-seropositive, giving a crude HTLV-I transmission rate of 9.7%, while among the 180 breast-fed children 10.6% were HTLV-I-seropositive. Perfect concordance between serological and PCR results was observed, and none of the 195 HTLV-I-negative children was found HTLV-I-positive by PCR. In conditional (by family) logistic-regression models, HTLV-I seropositivity in children was associated with an elevated maternal anti-HTLV-I-antibody titer (OR 2.2, p = 0.0013), a high maternal HTLV-I proviral load (OR 2.6, p = 0.033) and child's gender, girls being more frequently HTLV-I-infected than boys: OR 3.6, p = 0.0077 in the model including maternal anti-HTLV-I-antibody titer and OR 4.1, p = 0.002 in the model including the maternal HTLV-I proviral load.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Carrier State / virology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • French Guiana
  • Genome, Viral
  • HTLV-I Antibodies / blood*
  • HTLV-I Infections / blood
  • HTLV-I Infections / transmission*
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / genetics
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical*
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / virology*
  • Proviruses / genetics
  • Proviruses / isolation & purification
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Viral Load


  • DNA, Viral
  • HTLV-I Antibodies