Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type-1 associated T-cell leukemia/lymphoma masquerading as necrotizing retinal vasculitis

Grace A. Levy-Clarke, Ronald R. Buggage, De Fen Shen, Leon O. Vaughn, Chi Chao Chan, Janet L. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Objective: To report a case of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) presenting as a bilateral retinal vasculitis and diagnosed by molecular detection of a rearrangement in the T-cell receptor (TCR) and the presence of the human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) pol gene in the malignant lymphoid cells. Design: Case report. Methods: Routine histologic and immunohistochemical analyses were performed on the retinal biopsy specimen before referral to the National Eye Institute. Lymphoid cells associated with granulomatous inflammation infiltrating the retina and surrounding retinal blood vessels were microdissected from the paraffin sections of the retinal biopsy specimen. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed using primers for the TCR gene and HTLV-1 pol and gag genes. Results: Microscopic examination showed a necrotizing granulomatous retinal vasculitis with a predominant T-cell infiltrate detected by immunohistochemistry. Molecular analysis demonstrated a clonal rearrangement of the TCR and the presence of the HTLV-1 pol gene in the microdissected lymphoid cells diagnostic of ATL. Conclusions: Necrotizing retinitis and retinal vasculitis are rare manifestations of ATL. Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 infection should be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients from endemic areas who have retinal vasculitis at presentation. This case further demonstrates the usefulness of microdissection and PCR for the diagnosis of ocular disease, including HTLV-1 infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1717-1722
Number of pages6
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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