Human T-lymphotropic virus type I in Japan

Lancet. 1994 Jan 22;343(8891):213-6. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(94)90994-6.


Adult T-cell leukaemia (ATL) was first reported in Japan, where it has a high incidence in the southwest region. The retrovirus human T-lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I) is the cause of ATL; and in ATL-endemic areas, the rate of carriage of antibodies to HTLV-I is high. A definite diagnosis of ATL is based on the presence of HTLV-I proviral DNA in the tumour-cell DNA. ATL cells originate from the CD4 subset of peripheral T cells. ATL shows diverse clinical features but can be divided into four subtypes--acute, chronic, smouldering, and lymphoma type. It is resistant to chemotherapy, and the acute and lymphoma types have a poor prognosis. Familial occurrence of ATL is common. HTLV-I infection is caused by transmission of live infected lymphocytes from mother to child, from man to woman, or by transfusion. Infection with HTLV-I can lead to other diseases, including HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis and HTLV-I uveitis, possibly via induction of immunodeficiency or hyperreactivity against HTLV-I-infected cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Female
  • HTLV-I Antibodies / blood
  • HTLV-I Infections / blood
  • HTLV-I Infections / complications*
  • HTLV-I Infections / epidemiology*
  • HTLV-I Infections / prevention & control
  • HTLV-I Infections / transmission
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Leukemia, T-Cell / classification
  • Leukemia, T-Cell / epidemiology*
  • Leukemia, T-Cell / microbiology*
  • Leukemia, T-Cell / pathology
  • Leukemia, T-Cell / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Prognosis
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies


  • DNA, Viral
  • HTLV-I Antibodies