Implications of human T-lymphotropic virus in pregnancy: A case report and a review of the diagnostic criteria and management proposal

Exp Ther Med. 2021 Jan;21(1):82. doi: 10.3892/etm.2020.9514. Epub 2020 Nov 26.


Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) is considered to be the most highly oncogenic existing virus, being the cause of several fatal diseases such as adult T cell leukemia-lymphoma (ATL) and HTLV-I-associated myelopathy (HAM). The main transmission methods are unprotected sexual intercourse, vertical transmission and breastfeeding and direct exposure to infected blood or tissue. The identification of infected mothers prior to delivery is a highly important step in preventing mother to child transmission. Universal antenatal screening for HTLV is not recommended in Romania, although there are sufficient data demonstrating the risk of vertical transmission. We present the case of an HTLV-1-infected pregnant woman, with an aim to highlight: i) points of strategy for the management of HTLV during pregnancy; ii) the particularities of the course of pregnancy; and iii) the aspects that show the importance of knowing the status regarding the HTLV infection antepartum. The case was particular due to the ascendant proviral load during the pregnancy period, which led to the initiation of antiretroviral therapy and the particular pregnancy outcome with preterm rupture of membranes and fetal growth restriction. According to current recommendations, pregnant women infected with HTLV-1 should be advised to refrain from donating blood, body organs, or other tissues. There is no evidence of the number of individuals infected with this virus in Romania at present, and the diagnosis can only occur by chance. A specific treatment or immunization for HTLV infection does not currently exist, thus preventive methods are the only tool to reduce the prevalence and mortality of this infection.

Keywords: PROM; breastfeeding; fetal growth restriction; human T-lymphotropic virus; pregnancy; stem cell storage.