Immunological findings in neurological diseases associated with antibodies to HTLV-I: activated lymphocytes in tropical spastic paraparesis

Ann Neurol. 1988;23 Suppl:S196-200. doi: 10.1002/ana.410230744.


A retrovirus involvement in the etiology of certain neurological diseases is currently an area of intense interest. Tropical spastic paraparesis and other chronic progressive myelopathies have been clearly associated with increased serum and cerebrospinal fluid antibody titers to human T-lymphotropic virus type I; however, little is known about the cellular immune response. In the present study, activated T-lymphocytes were found in the peripheral blood of patients with this disorder. There were increased numbers of large CD3-positive cells that also expressed histocompatibility leukocyte Class II (DR) and interleukin 2-receptor molecules. In addition, a significantly elevated spontaneous lymphoproliferative response was demonstrated in all patients. This is consistent with the known in vitro effects of human T-lymphotropic virus type I. In one patient, a defect in the generation of measles virus-specific cytotoxic T cells was identified. These observations indicate abnormalities of the cellular immune response in tropical spastic paraparesis.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis*
  • Deltaretrovirus Antibodies
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Muscle Spasticity / immunology
  • Nervous System Diseases / immunology*
  • Paraplegia / immunology*
  • Tropical Climate


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Deltaretrovirus Antibodies