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HTLV-1: a re-emerging human pathogen

Thematic Series

Edited by Genoveffa Franchini and Cynthia Masison.

We are proud to announce that "HTLV-1: a re-emerging human pathogen" is now open for submissions to Retrovirology. Articles on HTLV-1 replication, pathogenesis, treatment and prevention and identify essential areas of unmet need in HTLV-1 basic and translational research.

HTLV-1 is the only known retrovirus to directly cause cancer in humans. HTLV-1 discovered in the late seventy at the NIH in 1980, is transmitted through breast feeding, trans-placentally, sexually and by blood transfusion and organ transplants. HTLV-1 causes a lethal disease, Adult T-cell Leukemia/Lymphoma (ATLL), and a plethora of inflammatory conditions such as uveitis and dermatitis including the neurological degenerative condition designated as Tropical Spastic Paraparesis/HTLV-1 Associated Myelopathy (TSP/HAM) that results in paralysis of the lower limbs. HTLV-1 infection affects millions of people worldwide and currently there is neither targeted antiretroviral therapy nor a vaccine for HTLV-1.

There are several sub-types of HTLV-1. The most prevalent are HTLV-1 subtypes A and B that are found worldwide and are endemic in Japan, the Caribbean, South America and Africa. However, pockets of HTLV-1 infections have also been described in the United States, Iran, Romania and more recently in the UK. In contrast, HTLV-1C, found first in Melanesia in 1993, was described later in New Caledonia and Australia, appears limited to Oceania. It is estimated that HTLV-1C has evolved independently in remote indigenous populations of Oceania in the last 40,000 years.

The current prevalence of HTLV-1 infection in the world is not known, as the last large-scale epidemiological studies were performed more than 30 years ago. Recently, an extraordinarily high prevalence of HTLV-1C, up to 50% in both female and males, has been described in underserved communities in the Norther Territory of Australia. HTLV-1C infection is associated not only with ATLL and TSP/HAM but also with a high mortality at a young age (mid 40s), due to lung inflammation, bronchiectasis, and infectious diseases. By the age of 40, both sexes exhibit a 30-40% HTLV-1C seroprevalence.

Despite the serious health problem caused by infection with all HTLV-1 subtypes, infection by these viruses has become a neglected condition and only palliative treatments are available to the 10-20 million of HTLV-1 infected individuals living mostly in resource deprived countries. Furthermore, the serious medical condition associated with HTLV-1C infection in indigenous populations of Australia, highlights the urgent need to extend HTLV-1 research.

Research on HTLV-1, a virus that has adapted to humans since ancient time, has thought us unexpected novel viral strategies to hijack host cellular pathways in T-cells and to counteract immune responses. There is an urgent need to discover novel preventive or therapeutic remedies for this virus that may relieve not only the suffering of HTLV-1 infected individuals but also augment our understanding of other chronic infection with cancer viruses.

The recent awareness of the serious medical condition associated with HTLV-1C infection in indigenous populations of Australia, highlights the urgent need to revitalize  HTLV-1 research. Thus, the scope of this collection is to summarize what is known on HTLV-1 replication, pathogenesis, treatment and prevention and identify essential areas of unmet need in HTLV-1 basic and translational research.

Submit here to Retrovirology.

Click here for  the journal's submission guidelines.

  1. Immunity against pathogens evolved through complex mechanisms that only for sake of simplicity are defined as innate immunity and adaptive immunity. Indeed innate and adaptive immunity are strongly intertwined...

    Authors: Greta Forlani, Mariam Shallak, Elise Ramia, Alessandra Tedeschi and Roberto S. Accolla

    Citation: Retrovirology 2019 16:34

    Content type: Review

    Published on:

  2. Arawete and Asurini Indian tribes were revisited after a 36-year follow-up in search of HTLV infections. 46 persons (23 from each tribe) were tested for HTLV-1/2 antibodies and viral DNA. None were positive; t...

    Authors: Antonio C. R. Vallinoto, Mateus I. Otake, Paulo V. N. R. Sousa, Felipe T. Lopes, Eliene R. P. Sacuena, Maria A. F. Queiroz, Greice L. C. Costa, Marluísa O. G. Ishak, Izaura M. V. Cayres-Vallinoto, João F. Guerreiro and Ricardo Ishak

    Citation: Retrovirology 2019 16:27

    Content type: Correspondence

    Published on:

  3. Vaccination against retroviruses is a challenge because of their ability to stably integrate into the host genome, undergo long-term latency in a proportion of infected cells and thereby escape immune response...

    Authors: Alejandro Abdala, Irene Alvarez, Hélène Brossel, Luis Calvinho, Hugo Carignano, Lautaro Franco, Hélène Gazon, Christelle Gillissen, Malik Hamaidia, Clotilde Hoyos, Jean-Rock Jacques, Thomas Joris, Florent Laval, Marcos Petersen, Florent Porquet, Natalia Porta…

    Citation: Retrovirology 2019 16:26

    Content type: Review

    Published on:

  4. Human T-cell leukemia virus type-1 (HTLV-1) causes adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL), HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP), and other inflammatory diseases. There is no diseas...

    Authors: Mari Kannagi, Atsuhiko Hasegawa, Yoshiko Nagano, Shuichi Kimpara and Youko Suehiro

    Citation: Retrovirology 2019 16:23

    Content type: Review

    Published on:

  5. Human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) was the first discovered human retrovirus and the etiologic agent of adult T-cell leukemia and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis. Shortly aft...

    Authors: Michael P. Martinez, Jacob Al-Saleem and Patrick L. Green

    Citation: Retrovirology 2019 16:21

    Content type: Review

    Published on: