Histopathological analysis of four autopsy cases of HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis: inflammatory changes occur simultaneously in the entire central nervous system

Acta Neuropathol. 2000 Sep;100(3):245-52. doi: 10.1007/s004019900170.


Although brain lesions have been described in some cases with HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP), little is known about the nature of brain lesion and its relation to the spinal cord lesion. In the present study, we performed histopathological analysis of the brain and the spinal cord of four autopsied cases with HAM/TSP to clarify the relationship between the brain and the spinal cord lesions. In two cases with active-chronic inflammation in the spinal cord, perivascular inflammatory infiltration was also seen in the brain, and the composition of cell subsets was similar both in the spinal cord and in the brain. No active inflammatory change was seen in the brain in two cases with inactive-chronic spinal cord lesions. Inflamed vessels were distributed mainly in the deep white matter and in the area between cerebral cortex and white matter of the brain. In the spinal cord inflamed vessels were mainly seen in the bilateral lateral and the ventral posterior columns. Parenchymal infiltration was diffused in the spinal cord but very sparse in the brain, suggesting the importance of parenchymal infiltration in the destruction of tissues. These results suggest that inflammatory changes occurred simultaneously in the spinal cord and in the brain, and that distribution of inflamed vessels closely correlated with the characteristics of vascular architecture of the brain and the spinal cord, which lead to a slow blood flow. This study may help promote a better understanding of the pathogenesis of HAM/TSP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Vessels / pathology
  • Blood Vessels / virology
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / virology
  • Central Nervous System / pathology*
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Central Nervous System / virology*
  • Encephalitis / pathology
  • Encephalitis / virology
  • Female
  • Fibrosis / pathology
  • Fibrosis / virology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / pathology*
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord / blood supply
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / virology