Human T Lymphotropic Virus Type I (HTLV-I) Oncogenesis: Molecular Aspects of Virus and Host Interactions in Pathogenesis of Adult T cell Leukemia/Lymphoma (ATL)

Document Type : Review Article


1 Research Centre for HIV/AIDS, HTLV and Viral Hepatitis, Iranian Academic Centre for Education, Culture & Research (ACECR), Mashhad Branch, Mashhad, Iran

2 Inflammation and Inflammatory diseases research Centre, Medical School, Mashhad University of Medical Science, Mashhad, Iran.

3 Department of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences, Ahvaz, Iran

4 Internal Medicine Dept, Medical School, Arak University of Medical Sciences, Arak- Iran

5 Immunology Research Centre, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


The study of tumor viruses paves the way for understanding the mechanisms of virus pathogenesis, including those involved in establishing infection and dissemination in the host tumor affecting immune-compromised patients. The processes ranging from viral infection to progressing malignancy are slow and usually insufficient for establishment of transformed cells that develop cancer in only a minority of infected subjects. Therefore, viral infection is usually not the only cause of cancer, and further environmental and host factors, may be implicated.
HTLV-I, in particular, is considered as an oncovirus cause of lymphoproliferative disease such as adult T cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) and disturbs the immune responses which results in HTLV-I associated meylopathy/tropical spastic parapresis (HAM/TSP). HTLV-I infection causes ATL in a small proportion of infected subjects (2-5%) following a prolonged incubation period (15-30 years) despite a strong adaptive immune response against the virus.
Overall, these conditions offer a prospect to study the molecular basis of tumorgenicity in mammalian cells. In this review, the oncogencity of HTLV-I is being considered as an oncovirus in context of ATL.


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