Effects of retroviral infections on immune function in African-American intravenous drug users

N. G. Klimas, J. B. Page, R. Patarca, D. Chitwood, R. Morgan, M. A. Fletcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine the effect of retrovirus infection and co-infection, and intravenous substance use, on immune function in African-Americans. Design: A cohort of South Florida street-recruited African-American intravenous drug users formed the study population. The cohort consisted of 90 HIV-negative & human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV)-negative, one HIV-negative & HTLV-I-positive, 11 HIV-negative & HTLV-II-positive, 79 HIV-positive & HTLV-negative, one HIV-positive & HTLV-I-positive and 21 HIV-positive & HTLV-II-positive individuals. The results reported are for the cross-sectional, baseline assessment of immune parameters. Methods: Lymphocyte phenotypic distributions and functional markers, including proliferative response to mitogens and natural killer cell cytotoxicity, were determined. Serum immunoglobulin (Ig) levels were determined as a measure of B-cell activity. Results: HTLV-II infection was associated with increases in CDS lymphocyte count and serum Ig, but with no other significant immunologic changes. The distribution of CD4 and CDS percentages, CD4: CD8 ratio, phytohemagglutinin (PHA) and pokeweed mitogen (PWM) reactivity, IgA and IgC for the four retrovirus serostatus groups suggested the possibility of interactive effects in the co-infected group, as demonstrated by a trend toward lower medians for CD4 and for PHA and PWM response and higher medians for IgG, IgA and CD8. Retrovirus-seronegative intravenous drug users had significantly impaired immune status compared with non-drug-using control individuals. Conclusions: Immunologic dysfunction attributable to HTLV-II infection was minor compared with HIV infection in this population. Study subjects who were co-infected with HIV and HTLV demonstrated more impairment of immune function than individuals with single retrovirus infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-335
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993


  • Co-infection
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus
  • Immune function
  • Intravenous substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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