Evaluation of HTLV-1 activity in HAM/TSP patients using proviral load and Tax mRNA expression after In Vitro lymphocyte activation

Document Type: Original Article


1 Microbiology and Virology Research Center, Ghaem Hospital, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran Virology Department, Public Health School, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Immunology Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

3 Inflammation and Inflammatory diseases Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Science, Mashhad, Iran

4 Virology Department, Public Health School, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Objective(s):HTLV-1 is the first human retrovirus that has been recognized and is associated with HAM/TSP and ATLL. Studies have shown that less than five percent of HTLV-1 infected carriers develop HAM/TSP or ATLL and about ninety-five percent remain asymptomatic. Therefore, the proviral load with Tax may affect cellular genes such as cytokines and oncogenes, as well as involve in pathogenicity.
Materials and Methods:Thirty HAM/TSP patients, thirty HTLV-1 healthy carriers, and MT-2 cell line were evaluated for HTLV-1 activity. PBMCs were isolated and activated using PMA and ionomycine. Real-time PCR and TaqMan methods were performed using specific primers and fluorescence probes for Tax expression and proviral load assessment. Β2microglobulin (β2m) and albumin were used as controls in Tax expression and in proviral load, respectively.
Results: An insignificant increase in Tax expression was observed in rest PBMCs of HAM/TSP patients compared to healthy carriers. However, after lymphocyte activation there was a significant increase in Tax expression in HAM/TSP patients (P=0.042). The Proviral load in patients was significantly higher than in carriers. Moreover, there was a significant correlation between Tax mRNA expression in activated PBMCs and proviral load (R=0.37, P=0.012).
Conclusion: Although proviral load had been addressed as a valuable index for monitoring HTLV-1 infected subjects, the results of this study demonstrated that Tax expression in activated PBMCs along with proviral load assessment in HAM/TSP patients are a more reliable factor for determining the prognosis and monitoring healthy carriers and HAM/TSP patients.


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