HTLV-I-associated myelopathy: analysis of 213 patients based on clinical features and laboratory findings

J Neurovirol. 1995 Mar;1(1):50-61. doi: 10.3109/13550289509111010.


We studied the clinical features and laboratory findings in 213 patients with HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis as diagnosed in Kagoshima University Hospital. Some aspects of clinical features in HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis were characterized by mode of HTLV-I transmission and age of onset. The patients with onset after 15 years old and no history of blood transfusion before the onset of the disease (151 patients, group I) showed a shorter interval between the time of disease onset and that of inability to walk. The patients with onset before 15 years old and without history of blood transfusion (21 patients, group II) had short stature and slow progression of the disease. The interval time and the progression of the disease in patients with history of blood transfusion before onset of disease (41 patients, group III) were in between those of the above two groups. Patients whose ages of onset were older than 61 years old showed a faster progression than those with younger onset regardless of the mode of HTLV-I transmission. HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis patients often also showed other organ disorders such as leukoencephalopathy (69%), abnormal findings on chest X-ray (50%), Sjögren syndrome (25%) and arthropathy (17%). The patients with low anti-HTLV-I antibody titers in the cerebrospinal fluid (2X-8X by PA method) had an older age of onset on average, milder clinical symptoms and lesser increase of neopterin in the cerebrospinal fluid than those in the high titer subgroup whose titers were higher than 1024X in cerebrospinal fluid regardless of the mode of HTLV-I transmission. We speculate that the clinical course of HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis mainly shows a slow progression which consists of an initial progressive phase (probably an inflammatory phase) and a latter chronic phase, although some patients showed acute/subacute onset and rapid progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Antibodies, Viral / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Biopterin / analogs & derivatives
  • Biopterin / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Lung Diseases / complications
  • Lung Diseases / virology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neopterin
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / complications
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / diagnosis*
  • Paraparesis, Tropical Spastic / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroid Diseases / complications
  • Thyroid Diseases / virology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Biopterin
  • Neopterin