Rev Esp Quimioter 2019; 32(6): 485-496

HTLV-1 infection: An emerging risk. Pathogenesis, epidemiology, diagnosis and associated diseases 


The Human T-Lymphotropic Virus type 1 (HTLV-1) affects up to 10 million people worldwide. It is directly associated to one of the most aggressive T cell malignancies: Adult T Cell Leukemia-Lymphoma (ATLL) and a progressive neurological disorder, Tropical Spastic Paraparesis/ HTLV-1 Associated Myelopathy (TSP/HAM). Also, infected patients tend to have more severe forms of infectious diseases such as Strongyloidiasis and Tuberculosis. HTLV spreads through parenteral, sexual, and vertical (mother-to-child) routes. Effective viral transmission is produced mainly by cell to cell mechanism, unlike other retroviruses such as HIV, which usually spread infecting cells in a cell-free form. HTLV also has a peculiar distribution, with clusters of high endemicity in nearby areas of very low prevalence or absence of the virus. This could be explained by factors including a possible founder effect, the predominance of mother to child transmission and the cell-to-cell trans-mission mechanisms. More data on viral epidemiology are needed in order to develop strategies in endemic areas aimed at reducing viral dissemination. In this review, we critically analyze HTLV-1 pathogenesis, epidemiology, diagnosis, associated diseases, preventive strategies, and treatments, with emphasis to the emerging risk for Europe and particularly Spain, focusing on prevention methods to avoid viral transmission and associated diseases.

Rev Esp Quimioter 2019; 32(6): 485-496 [Full-text PDF]