Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1) is the etiological agent of adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). It has been estimated that 10–20 million people are infected worldwide, but no successful treatment is available. Recently, the epidemiology of this virus was addressed in blood donors from Maputo, showing rates from 0.9 to 1.2%. However, the origin and impact of HTLV endemic in this population is unknown.
To assess the HTLV-1 molecular epidemiology in Mozambique and to investigate their relationship with HTLV-1 lineages circulating worldwide.
Blood donors and HIV patients were screened for HTLV antibodies by using enzyme immunoassay, followed by Western Blot. PCR and sequencing of HTLV-1 LTR region were applied and genetic HTLV-1 subtypes were assigned by the neighbor-joining method. The mean genetic distance of Mozambican HTLV-1 lineages among the genetic clusters were determined. Human mitochondrial (mt) DNA analysis was performed and individuals classified in mtDNA haplogroups.
LTR HTLV-1 analysis demonstrated that all isolates belong to the Transcontinental subgroup of the Cosmopolitan subtype. Mozambican HTLV-1 sequences had a high inter-strain genetic distance, reflecting in three major clusters. One cluster is associated with the South Africa sequences, one is related with Middle East and India strains and the third is a specific Mozambican cluster. Interestingly, 83.3% of HIV/HTLV-1 co-infection was observed in the Mozambican cluster. The human mtDNA haplotypes revealed that all belong to the African macrohaplogroup L with frequencies representatives of the country.
The Mozambican HTLV-1 genetic diversity detected in this study reveals that although the strains belong to the most prevalent and worldwide distributed Transcontinental subgroup of the Cosmopolitan subtype, there is a high HTLV diversity that could be correlated with at least 3 different HTLV-1 introductions in the country. The significant rate of HTLV-1a/HIV-1C co-infection, particularly in the Mozambican cluster, has important implications for the controls programs of both viruses.
Human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the causative agent of Adult T-Cell Leukemia/Lymphoma (ATL), the Tropical Spastic Paraparesis/HTLV-1-associated Myelopathy (TSP/HAM) and other inflammatory diseases, including dermatitis, uveitis, and myositis. It is estimated that 2–8% of the infected persons will develop a HTLV-1-associated disease during their lifetimes, frequently TSP/HAM. Thus far, there is not a specific treatment to this progressive and chronic disease. HTLV-1 has means of three transmission: (i) from mother to child during prolonged breastfeeding, (ii) between sexual partners and (iii) through blood transfusion. HTLV-1 has been characterized in 7 subtypes and the geographical distribution and the clinical impact of this infection is not well known, mainly in African population. HTLV-1 is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Mozambique is a country of southeastern Africa where TSP/HAM cases were reported. Recently, our group estimated the HTLV prevalence among Mozambican blood donors as 0.9%. In this work we performed a genetic analysis of HTLV-1 in blood donors and HIV/HTLV co-infected patients from Maputo, Mozambique. Our results showed the presence of three HTLV-1 clusters within the Cosmopolitan/Transcontinental subtype/subgroup. The differential rates of HIV-1/HTLV-1 co-infection in the three HTLV-1 clusters demonstrated the dynamic of the two viruses and the need for implementation of control measures focusing on both retroviruses.