Few studies have specifically examined proviral load (PVL) and clonal evolution of human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1)-infected cells in vertically infected children.
Sequential samples (from ages 1 to 16 years) from 3 HTLV-1-infected children (cases A, B and C) in the Jamaica Mother Infant Cohort Study were analyzed for their PVL and clonal expansion of HTLV-1-infected cells in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) by inverse-long PCR.
The baseline PVL (per 100,000 PBMCs) of case A was 260 (at 1 year of age) and of case B it was 1,867 (at 3 years of age), and they remained constant for more than 10 years. Stochastic patterns of clonal expansion of HTLV-1-infected cells were predominately detected. In contrast, case C, who had lymphadenopathy, seborrheic dermatitis and hyperreflexia, showed an increase in PVL from 2,819 at 1.9 years to 13,358 at 13 years of age, and expansion of 2 dominant clones.
The clonal expansion of HTLV-1-infected cells is induced in early childhood after infection acquired from their mothers. Youths with high PVL and any signs and symptoms associated with HTLV-1 infection should be closely monitored.