Phenotypic and functional analysis of γδ T cells in the pathogenesis of human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 infection

Front Immunol. 2022 Aug 11;13:920888. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.920888. eCollection 2022.


The human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the cause of serious malignant and inflammatory diseases, including adult T-cell leukemia and lymphoma and tropical spastic paraparesis. The potential protective role of γδ T cells in HTLV-1 infection remains unclear. Here, demonstrate that there is a decrease in the amount of Vγ9Vδ2 T cells in patients with HTLV-1, especially in those with HTLV-1 associated pathologies. This suggests that γδ T cells could be involved in controlling the virus. Indeed, we found that Vγ9Vδ2 T cells, expanded from non-infected individuals, can kill cells expressing the viral proteins HBZ and Tax and this phenotype is reversed in the presence of mevastatin. Cytotoxicity by Vγ9Vδ2 T cells was not associated with an increase of INF-γ production. In sharp contrast, killing by NK cells was reduced by Tax expression. Thus, our study provides initial evidence for a potential protective role of Vγ9Vδ2 T cells against HTLV-1 infection. Therapeutic exploitation of these insights is feasible with current technologies of T-cell therapies and could provide novel tools to prevent and treat HTLV-1-associated malignancies and neurologic complications.

Keywords: HTLV-1; IFN-γ; cytotoxicity; mevalonate pathway; γδ T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • HTLV-I Infections*
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1*
  • Humans
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic*
  • Phenotype
  • T-Lymphocytes