Non-cancerous complications in HTLV-1 carriers

Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2024 May;22(5):307-316. doi: 10.1080/14787210.2024.2336547. Epub 2024 Apr 1.


Introduction: Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) carriers may develop adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), or HTLV-1-associated myelopathy (HAM)/tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP). The evidence is limited regarding other diseases potentially associated with HTLV-1, such as HTLV-1-associated autoimmune diseases.

Area covered: We summarized the available information on complications associated with HTLV-1 infection.

Expert opinion: Previous studies showed that HTLV-1 carriers have an increased incidence of collagen diseases including Sjögren's syndrome, as well as dysthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, and atherosclerosis. Furthermore, cognitive deficits are observed in asymptomatic carriers and in symptomatic carriers who develop HAM/TSP. It is hypothesized that altered immunoregulation occurs as a result of persistent HTLV-1 infection. A systematic review and meta-analysis demonstrated that HTLV-1 infection itself has an adverse impact on overall survival. ATL alone cannot entirely explain the adverse impact of HTLV-1 infection on overall mortality, because the incidence is low, and therefore HTLV-1-associated diseases as a whole may contribute to the inferior clinical outcome. However, there are insufficient data to determine the causal relationship between HTLV-1 infection and each complication. While non-cancerous events linked to HTLV-1 infection are not fatal, they are likely to reduce quality of life. Large prospective studies should be conducted by international collaborators.

Keywords: HTLV-1; cognitive deficits; collagen disease; dysthyroidism; non-cancerous complications.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / epidemiology
  • Carrier State* / virology
  • HTLV-I Infections* / complications
  • HTLV-I Infections* / epidemiology
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia-Lymphoma, Adult T-Cell* / epidemiology
  • Leukemia-Lymphoma, Adult T-Cell* / virology
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic* / epidemiology
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic* / virology