The Human T lymphotropic virus type-1 (HTLV-1) infects predominantly T cells, inducing proliferation and lymphocyte activation. Additionally, HTLV-1 infected subjects are more susceptible to other infections caused by other intracellular agents. Monocytes/macrophages are important cells in the defense against intracellular pathogens. Our aims were to determine the frequency of monocytes subsets, expression of co-stimulatory molecules in these cells and to evaluate microbicidal ability and cytokine and chemokine production by macrophages from HTLV-1 infected subjects. Participants were 23 HTLV-1 carriers (HC), 22 HAM/TSP patients and 22 healthy subjects (HS) not infected with HTLV-1. The frequencies of monocyte subsets and expression of co-stimulatory molecules were determined by flow cytometry. Macrophages were infected with L. braziliensis or stimulated with LPS. Microbicidal activity of macrophages was determined by optic microscopy. Cytokines/chemokines from macrophage supernatants were measured by ELISA. HAM/TSP patients showed an increase frequency of intermediate monocytes, but expression of co-stimulatory molecules was similar between the groups. Macrophages from HTLV-1 infected individuals were infected with L. braziliensis at the same ratio than macrophages from HS, and all the groups had the same ability to kill Leishmania parasites. However, macrophages from HTLV-1 infected subjects produced more CXCL9 and CCL5, and less IL-10 than cells from HS. While there was no correlation between IFN-γ and cytokine/chemokine production by macrophages, there was a correlation between proviral load and TNF and CXCL10. These data showed a dissociation between the inflammatory response and microbicidal ability of macrophages from HTLV-1 infected subjects. While macrophages ability to kill an intracellular pathogen did not differ among HTLV-1 infected subjects, these cells secreted high amount of chemokines even in unstimulated cultures. Moreover the increasing inflammatory activity of macrophages was similar in HAM/TSP patients and HC and it was related to HTLV-1 proviral load rather than the high IFN-γ production observed in these subjects.
HTLV-1 predominantly infects T cells, inducing cell proliferation and activation. While there is a larger amount of studies regarding T cells functions in HTLV-1 infected subjects, little is known about innate immunity. We evaluated monocyte and macrophage functions in HTLV-1 infected subjects. We observed that HAM/TSP patients have an increased frequency of intermediate monocytes, but expression of co-stimulatory molecules in these cells was similar between HTLV-1 infected subjects and healthy subjects (HS). Additionally, the microbicidal ability of macrophages from HTLV-1 infected subjects to kill Leishmania braziliensis is preserved, and these cells showed inflammatory profile, producing more CXCL9 and CCL5, and less IL-10 than macrophages from HS. It was important to determine if the exacerbated ability of macrophages to secrete cytokine was due to IFN-γ production. While there was no correlation between IFN-γ levels by PBMCs and cytokine/chemokine production by macrophages, there was a direct correlation between proviral load and TNF and CXCL10 levels. Our data indicate that despite the high production of proinflammatory mediators, macrophages from HTLV-1 infected subjects kill an intracellular pathogen in similar levels than cells from HS and pointed out for the role of viral factors inducing the inflammatory response in these cells.