Objective: Human T-cell leukemia virus types I (HTLV-I) and II (HTLV-II) are closely related human retroviruses. HTLV-I has been implicated in a chronic progressive myelopathy, known as tropical spastic paraparesis (TSP) or HTLV-I-associated myelopathy (HAM). We sought to determine whether autoantibodies to brain antigens were present in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of a patient with chronic progressive spastic myelopathy with evidence of both HIV-1 infection and HTLV-I/II seropositivity. Design: A 54-year-old bisexual man with clinical features of HAM/TSP of over 20 years' duration was followed. Methods: We applied discriminatory DNA amplification (polymerase chain reaction) to distinguish HTLV-I from HTLV-II and to verify co-infection with HIV-1. The patient's CSF was used to screen a human brain cDNA expression library to identify antibodies directed against brain antigens. Autoreactive bacteriophage clones were isolated and sequenced. Results: The patient was found to be co-infected with both HIV-1 and HTLV-II, but not with HTLV-I. HTLV-II proviral levels in the peripheral blood remained relatively constant, despite therapy with zidovudine. Prominent oligoclonal banding of immunoglobulins was present in the patient's CSF. A single repeatedly reactive cDNA clone was identified, by screening with CSF antibody, sequenced, and found to be the human homologue of the rat insulinoma gene, rig. Conclusions: HTLV-II infection may predispose to development of a HAM/TSP-like illness. Autoimmune mechanisms, such as autoantibody formation, may play a role in pathogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy