Mortality and Risk of Progression to Adult T Cell leukemia/lymphoma in HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical Spastic Paraparesis

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 May 26;117(21):11685-11691. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1920346117. Epub 2020 May 11.


Human T cell leukemia virus 1 (HTLV-1) causes the functionally debilitating disease HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) as well as adult T cell leukemia lymphoma (ATLL). Although there were concerns that the mortality of HAM/TSP could be affected by the development of ATLL, prospective evidence was lacking in this area. In this 5-y prospective cohort study, we determined the mortality, prevalence, and incidence of ATLL in 527 HAM/TSP patients. The standard mortality ratio of HAM/TSP patients was 2.25, and ATLL was one of the major causes of death (5/33 deaths). ATLL prevalence and incidence in these patients were 3.0% and 3.81 per 1,000 person-y, respectively. To identify patients at a high risk of developing ATLL, flow cytometry, Southern blotting, and targeted sequencing data were analyzed in a separate cohort of 218 HAM/TSP patients. In 17% of the HAM/TSP patients, we identified an increase in T cells positive for cell adhesion molecule 1 (CADM1), a marker for ATLL and HTLV-1-infected cells. Genomic analysis revealed that somatic mutations of HTLV-1-infected cells were seen in 90% of these cases and 11% of them had dominant clone and developed ATLL in the longitudinal observation. In this study, we were able to demonstrate the increased mortality in patients with HAM/TSP and a significant effect of ATLL on their prognosis. Having dominant clonal expansion of HTLV-1-infected cells with ATLL-associated somatic mutations may be important characteristics of patients with HAM/TSP who are at an increased risk of developing ATLL.

Keywords: ATLL; HAM/TSP; HTLV-1; SMR; prognosis.