The study aims to assess the usefulness of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-infected cell analysis using flow cytometry (HAS-Flow) as a monitoring method for adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) development in HTLV-1-positive patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) under treatment with antirheumatic therapies. A total of 13 HTLV-1-negative and 57 HTLV-1-positive RA patients participated in this study, which was used to collect clinical and laboratory data, including HAS-Flow and HTLV-1 proviral load (PVL), which were then compared between the two groups. CADM1 expression on CD4+ cells in peripheral blood (PB) was used to identify HTLV-1-infected cells. The population of CADM1+ CD4+ cells was significantly higher in HTLV-1-positive RA patients compared to HTLV-1-negative RA patients. The population of CADM1+ CD4+ cells was correlated with HTLV-1 PVL values. There were no antirheumatic therapies affecting both the expression of CADM1 on CD4+ cells and PVLs. Six HTLV-1-positive RA patients who indicated both high HTLV-1 PVL and a predominant pattern of CADM1+ CD7neg CD4+ cells in HAS-Flow can be classified as high-risk for ATL progression. HAS-Flow could be a useful method for monitoring high-risk HTLV-1-positive RA patients who are at risk of developing ATL during antirheumatic therapies.
Keywords: adult T-cell leukaemia (ATL); flow cytometry; human T-cell leukaemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1); rheumatoid arthritis.