Rate of positive autoimmune markers in Human T lymphotropic virus type 1 carriers: a case-control study from Iran

Ahmadi Ghezeldasht S, Hedayati-Moghaddam MR, Habibi M, Mollahosseini F, Rafatpanah H, Miri R, Hatef Fard M, Sahebari M

Int J Rheum Dis. 2018 Jan;21(1):108-113. doi: 10.1111/1756-185X.13002

AIM: Human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infection with high prevalence in the north-east of Iran, particularly in Mashhad, can lead to adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) and a variety of autoimmune diseases. The aim of the study was to examine the presence of autoimmune markers in HTLV carries.

METHODS: Serum samples were obtained from blood donors in Mashhad, northeastern Iran. One hundred and five HTLV-1 positive (cases) and 104 age- and sex-matched HTLV-1 negative donors (controls) were assessed for presence of serum autoimmune markers by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

RESULTS: The mean ages of cases and controls were 40.8 ± 9.4 and 41.5 ± 9.3 years, respectively (P = 0.5). In the case group, 81.9% and in the control group 83.7% were male (P = 0.74). The frequency of positive antinuclear antibodies and anticyclic citrullinated peptide antibodies in the serum of the two groups were not significantly different (P = 0.68 and P = 0.62, respectively). Only one antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-positive case (1%) was observed in the group and no anti-phospholipid immunoglobulin G positivity was observed. The frequency of rheumatoid factor (RF) was greater in case group than in the control group, although the difference was not significant (P = 0.08). The amount of RF in all 12 RF positive sera were higher than normal levels (33-37 IU/mL).

CONCLUSION: Because we failed to detect any significant relation between serum autoimmune markers and HTLV-1 infection, and because of the relatively low prevalence of autoimmune diseases, it could be concluded that healthy HTLV-1 carriers do not produce rheumatologic-related auto-antibodies more than the healthy population.

KEYWORDS: HTLV-1; HTLV1; Human T lymphotropic virus type 1; Iran; autoimmune markers; autoimmunity; case-control study