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In vivo T lymphocyte dynamics in humans and the impact of human T-lymphotropic virus 1 infection

Asquith, Becca, Zhang, Yan, Mosley, Angelina J., de Lara, Catherine M., Wallace, Diana L., Worth, Andrew, Kaftantzi, Lambrini, Meekings, Kiran, Griffin, George E., Tanaka, Yuetsu, Tough, David F., Beverley, Peter C., Taylor, Graham P., Macallan, Derek C., Bangham, Charles R.M.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2007 v.104 no.19 pp. 8035-8040
Primate T-lymphotropic virus 1, T-lymphocytes, adults, anthropogenic activities, cell proliferation, gene expression, glucose, humans, immune response, lymphocyte proliferation, neoplasm cells, risk, viruses
Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is a persistent CD4⁺ T-lymphotropic retrovirus. Most HTLV-1-infected individuals remain asymptomatic, but a proportion develop adult T cell leukemia or inflammatory disease. It is not fully understood how HTLV-1 persists despite a strong immune response or what determines the risk of HTLV-1-associated diseases. Until recently, it has been difficult to quantify lymphocyte kinetics in humans in vivo. Here, we used deuterated glucose labeling to quantify in vivo lymphocyte dynamics in HTLV-1-infected individuals. We then used these results to address four questions. (i) What is the impact of HTLV-1 infection on lymphocyte dynamics? (ii) How does HTLV-1 persist? (iii) What is the extent of HTLV-1 expression in vivo? (iv) What features of lymphocyte kinetics are associated with HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis? We found that CD4⁺CD45RO⁺ and CD8⁺CD45RO⁺ T lymphocyte proliferation was elevated in HTLV-1-infected subjects compared with controls, with an extra 10¹² lymphocytes produced per year in an HTLV-1-infected subject. The in vivo proliferation rate of CD4⁺CD45RO⁺ cells also correlated with ex vivo viral expression. Finally, the inflammatory disease HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis was associated with significantly increased CD4⁺CD45RO⁺ cell proliferation. We suggest that there is persistent viral gene expression in vivo, which is necessary for the maintenance of the proviral load and determines HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis risk.