Journal of NeuroVirology

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 432–438 | Cite as

HTLV-1 proviral load in cerebrospinal fluid may not be a good marker to differentiate asymptomatic carriers with high proviral load in blood from HAM/TSP patients

  • Marina Lobato Martins
  • Anna Bárbara de Freitas Carneiro-Proietti
  • Rodrigo Nicolato
  • Débora Marques de Miranda
  • Luiz Cláudio Ferreira Romanelli


An elevated human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) proviral load (PVL) is an important risk factor for HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP), although there is a considerable frequency of asymptomatic carriers (AC) with high PVL in blood. Our objective was to evaluate whether PVL quantified in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is helpful to distinguish AC from HAM when AC have high PVL in blood (ACH). ACH (n = 7) were characterized to have high PVL in blood by quantification of samples collected over time (mean 7 years). HAM patients (n = 14) also had analyzed blood samples collected at different times (mean 9 years). Comparing paired CSF and blood samples of each individual, CSF PVL mean was 4.7-fold higher than blood PVL in the ACH group and 10.8-fold in the HAM group. CSF PVL was significantly greater than blood PVL in the HAM group (p = 0.004), but not in the ACH group. Important to highlight, CSF PVL was not significantly different between the ACH and the HAM groups. These results suggested that significantly higher PVL in CSF than in blood is a hallmark of HAM/TSP patients, but this is also true for asymptomatic carriers with high PVL in blood, thus reducing its usefulness as a marker for HAM/TSP. A greater number of ACH should be analyzed, but whether they will eventually develop HAM/TSP or why they have not developed the disease are still questions to be clarified. Longitudinal studies are necessary to answer these questions.


HTLV-1 HAM/TSP Proviral load Cerebrospinal fluid Risk marker 



The authors would like to thank all the participants of the GIPH cohort.

Funding information

This study was funded by the Fundação Hemominas, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG), and Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq). MLM received fellowship from FAPEMIG; ABCP and DMM received fellowships from CNPq.

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures were in accordance with the standards of the Ethical Committees from Fundação Hemominas and Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. Written consent for the study was obtained from all individuals.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Journal of NeuroVirology, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marina Lobato Martins
    • 1
    • 2
  • Anna Bárbara de Freitas Carneiro-Proietti
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rodrigo Nicolato
    • 3
    • 4
  • Débora Marques de Miranda
    • 5
  • Luiz Cláudio Ferreira Romanelli
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Serviço de PesquisaFundação Centro de Hematologia e Hemoterapia de Minas Gerais, Fundação HEMOMINASBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Interdisciplinar HTLV Research Group (GIPH)Belo HorizonteBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia em Medicina Molecular, Faculdade de MedicinaUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  4. 4.Departamento de Saúde Mental, Faculdade de MedicinaUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  5. 5.Departamento de Pediatria, Faculdade de MedicinaUniversidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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