Table of Contents
Leukemia Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 259045, 12 pages
Review Article

Immunopathogenesis of Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type-1-Associated Myelopathy/Tropical Spastic Paraparesis: Recent Perspectives

1Department of Immunology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of the Ryukyus, 207 Uehara, Okinawa 903-0215, Japan
2Department of Immunology, Wright-Fleming Institute, Imperial College London, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG, UK

Received 1 August 2011; Revised 30 September 2011; Accepted 9 October 2011

Academic Editor: Pooja Jain

Copyright © 2012 Mineki Saito and Charles R. M. Bangham. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Human T-cell leukemia virus type-1 (HTLV-1) is a replication-competent human retrovirus associated with two distinct types of disease only in a minority of infected individuals: the malignancy known as adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) and a chronic inflammatory central nervous system disease HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). HAM/TSP is a chronic progressive myelopathy characterized by spastic paraparesis, sphincter dysfunction, and mild sensory disturbance in the lower extremities. Although the factors that cause these different manifestations of HTLV-1 infection are not fully understood, accumulating evidence from host population genetics, viral genetics, DNA expression microarrays, and assays of lymphocyte function suggests that complex virus-host interactions and the host immune response play an important role in the pathogenesis of HAM/TSP. Especially, the efficiency of an individual's cytotoxic T-cell (CTL) response to HTLV-1 limits the HTLV-1 proviral load and the risk of HAM/TSP. This paper focuses on the recent advances in HAM/TSP research with the aim to identify the precise mechanisms of disease, in order to develop effective treatment and prevention.