Imaging of human T-lymphotropic virus type I-associated chronic progressive myeloneuropathies

Neuroradiology. 1992;35(1):69-74. doi: 10.1007/BF00588283.


We studied magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head and cervical spine and CT of the head in 46 patients (14 men, 32 women) with chronic progressive myeloneuropathy. The findings were correlated with human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) serology, race, country of origin, and age. We found a female predominance of 2:1. Most patients were aged between 30 and 50 years, and most were Caribbean immigrants and black. There were 9 men and 17 women with blood antibody titers to HTLV-I and 7 men and 15 women with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) titers. All patients with virus or antibodies in blood or CSF were Caribbean immigrants or black. T2-weighted cranial MRI showed scattered areas of high signal intensity in the cerebral white matter, usually in the periventricular and subcortical areas, but not in the posterior cranial fossa. Cranial CT revealed periventricular low density areas, ventricular enlargement, and atrophy MRI of the cervical spine showed atrophy of the cord. Myelography was normal in all 15 patients examined. No imaging differences were observed between the HTLV-I-positive and -negative patients. These findings, although consistent with demyelination, are not specific.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Brain Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain Diseases / immunology
  • Brain Diseases / microbiology*
  • Cerebral Ventricles / pathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Demyelinating Diseases / diagnosis
  • Demyelinating Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • HTLV-I Antibodies / blood
  • HTLV-I Antibodies / cerebrospinal fluid
  • HTLV-I Infections / diagnosis*
  • HTLV-I Infections / diagnostic imaging
  • HTLV-I Infections / immunology
  • HTLV-I Infections / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / immunology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / microbiology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • HTLV-I Antibodies