Circulating CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes specific for HTLV-I pX in patients with HTLV-I associated neurological disease

Nature. 1990 Nov 15;348(6298):245-8. doi: 10.1038/348245a0.


The human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I), the first human retrovirus to be characterized, is associated with adult T-cell leukaemia and a chronic progressive disease of the central nervous system termed tropical spastic paraparesis, or HTLV-I-associated myelopathy. Only 1% of individuals infected with HTLV-I develop clinical disease however. The various manifestations of an HTLV-I infection may be related to differences in the genetic backgrounds of individuals, infection with variant strains of HTLV-I, differences in viral tropism or host immune response to the virus. Whereas the humoral response to HTLV-I is well characterized, little is known about the human cellular immune response, such as the production of cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Here we report the presence of high levels of circulating HTLV-I-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes in patients with HTLV-I associated neurological disease but not in HTLV-I seropositive individuals without neurological involvement. These cytotoxic T lymphocytes are CD8+, HLA class I- restricted and predominantly recognize the HTLV-I gene products encoded in the regulatory region pX. These findings suggest that HTLV-I-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes may contribute to the pathogenesis of associated neurological disorders associated with HTLV-I.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Female
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Products, env / genetics
  • Gene Products, env / immunology
  • Gene Products, rex / genetics
  • Gene Products, rex / immunology
  • Gene Products, tax / genetics
  • Gene Products, tax / immunology
  • HTLV-I Infections / immunology
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / genetics
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, T-Cell / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology*
  • Transfection
  • Vaccinia virus / genetics


  • DNA, Recombinant
  • Gene Products, env
  • Gene Products, rex
  • Gene Products, tax