Open Access Research article

Co-infection by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1): does immune activation lead to a faster progression to AIDS?

Eduardo Samo Gudo12*, Nilesh B Bhatt1, Dulce Ramalho Bila1, Celina Monteiro Abreu3, Amílcar Tanuri3, Wilson Savino2, Suse Dayse Silva-Barbosa24 and Ilesh V Jani1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Immunology, National Institute of Health, Maputo, Mozambique

2 Laboratory on Thymus Research, Oswaldo Cruz Institute, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3 Departament of Genetics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

4 Center for Bone Marrow Transplantation, National Cancer Institute, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:211  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-211

Published: 22 December 2009



Recent data have shown that HTLV-1 is prevalent among HIV positive patients in Mozambique, although the impact of HTLV-1 infection on HIV disease progression remains controversial. Our aim was to determine the phenotypic profile of T lymphocytes subsets among Mozambican patients co-infected by HIV and HTLV-1.


We enrolled 29 patients co-infected by HTLV-1 and HIV (co-infected), 59 patients mono-infected by HIV (HIV) and 16 healthy controls (HC), respectively.

For phenotypic analysis, cells were stained with the following fluorochrome-labeled anti-human monoclonal antibodies CD4-APC, CD8-PerCP, CD25-PE, CD62L-FITC, CD45RA-FITC. CD45RO-PE, CD38-PE; being analysed by four-colour flow cytometry.


We initially found that CD4+ T cell counts were significantly higher in co-infected, as compared to HIV groups. Moreover, CD4+ T Lymphocytes from co-infected patients presented significantly higher levels of CD45RO and CD25, but lower levels of CD45RA and CD62L, strongly indicating that CD4+ T cells are more activated under HTLV-1 plus HIV co-infection.


Our data indicate that HTLV-1/HIV co-infected patients progress with higher CD4+ T cell counts and higher levels of activation markers. In this context, it is conceivable that in co-infected individuals, these higher levels of activation may account for a faster progression to AIDS.