Chronic progressive myelopathy associated with elevated antibodies to human T-lymphotropic virus type I and adult T-cell leukemialike cells

Ann Neurol. 1987 Feb;21(2):117-22. doi: 10.1002/ana.410210203.


Six adult patients had a chronic progressive myelopathy that possessed the following features: high antibody titers to human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); predominantly upper motor neuron disorder, symmetrical, with mild sensory and bladder disturbances; and presence of adult T-cell leukemia-like cells in both peripheral blood and CSF. We refer to this entity as HTLV-I-associated myelopathy (HAM). Electrophoretic studies of immunoglobulin G in CSF using Western blot analysis characteristically demonstrated p24 and p32 bands. Rates of intra-blood-brain barrier synthesis were determined and found increased in the patients with HAM. Corticosteroid treatment produced clinical improvement in all of 4 patients. A retrospective survey of CSF samples was carried out in 287 patients with neurological disorders, and 6 additional patients with HAM were identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis*
  • Antibodies, Viral / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Chronic Disease
  • Deltaretrovirus / immunology*
  • Deltaretrovirus Infections / complications
  • Deltaretrovirus Infections / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / biosynthesis
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / drug therapy
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / immunology*
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / pathology


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G